My mother also loves to shop. Whenever she is visiting from her small community in Southeast Colorado, we always spend time shopping. New York shopping is very different than Washington shopping, however. In Washington, we spend time in my favorite discount stores -- stores like Filene's Basement. In New York, it is great fun to look around at the large department stores -- stores where you do more looking than buying.
We arrived in New York on Thursday morning, checked into our hotel, and set out for Fifth Avenue. We stopped first at the American Girl Place -- a place that was enough to send my niece into pure delight and me into pure amazement and regret. I had never been to a place with a hair salon for dolls (what is this world coming to?). We then walked across the street to Saks Fifth Avenue.
We had only been inside the doors of the store for two minutes when a woman said, "Hello! Welcome to New York. Where are you visiting from? Please come over. I have a solution for your lips." She proceeded to welcome us to her makeup counter, pull out three chairs for each one of us, and introduce us to one of the new product lines -- a line called, "Solutions."
The woman tempted us to the counter because she promised to have the perfect lipstick for us. An hour later, she had showed us a solution for my oily skin, the wrinkles beneath my eyes, my cracked lips, and my blemishes. An hour later, she had convinced us that we needed the solutions she had to offer. An hour later, we had spent more money on makeup than we ever thought we would. An hour later, we felt absolutely beautiful because she had given us the right solution -- she gave us exactly what we needed, sprinkling the experience with warmth and hospitality.
It all started with the words, "I have a solution for you."
Today is Good Friday. It is a day that always leaves me in tears, wondering how on earth God could love all of us so much that God would send his only Son to die upon a cross. Today is a day on which the Son of God was nailed to a cross for the atonement of our sins -- so that we could be made "at one" with God.
Today, we remember the most amazing solution this world has ever seen. Since the Garden of Eden, people had been stuck in the mess and rubble of their sins. Death was inevitable. Life was scarce. There seemed to be no way out. There was no way out until some 2000 years ago when Jesus, the Son of God, was born into the world. He came announcing solutions for all of our needs.
Too much darkness around you? The light -- my light -- shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome the light.
Afraid of dying or mourning the loss of a loved one? I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me - even thou they die - yet shall they live!
Wondering how on earth anyone could ever love you after all that you have done? I am the Good Shepherd, and the Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. The shepherd even leaves all 99 sheep behind in order to go after the one sheep that is missing.
Do you want to see a different kingdom than the kingdom controlled by the rulers of this world - a kingdom in which the powerful always win, a kingdom ruled by sword and not peace? The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. I welcome everyone -- especially the people no one else wants.
And this is just the beginning of his solutions. He brought a solution for all of our deepest needs. He has a solution for all of our heavy burdens. He has a solution for our longings and our fears. He has a solution for exactly what we need.
Yes, it's Good Friday. It is a day on which a solution -- a painful, awesome, beautiful solution --was created -- for you and for me.