As we as a staff thought about how to best bless and love our community this Holy Week, the week leading up to Jesus’s crucifixion on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter Sunday, we were inspired by the power of testimonies and personal reflection. So we asked our friends and fellow Christians on campus to share #TheGoodNews of the gospel through Scripture, praise, and conviction. We do this in the spirit of Romans 10:14-15:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14-15 (ESV)
Even in weary and anxious times like these, we know the redeeming power of the gospel is as alive, as hopeful, and as good as ever. These stories are testaments to that truth.
Chaelin Jung '23
I’ve been listening to a lot of hymns lately—there’s something about tradition that I love so much, and there’s so much power in knowing these songs have been ministering to people for centuries. It reminds me of just how immutable the gospel is. From the gospel Paul preached while planting churches in 50 AD to the gospel that transformed my life a few years ago, it’s the same truth—the same grace—that gives life. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8), which means the same Jesus who bore the full wrath of God for our sins is the same Jesus who saves us today.
This Easter, we all come before God with very real needs and anxieties, and He invites us to. But what we need most is not more answers but more of Him. And really, when any doubt about His character or will creeps into our minds, we don’t have to look any further than the cross to remember the lengths He’ll go to rescue us. The battle has been won; death has been defeated. So we rejoice.
Naomi Kim '21
There's this painting of the Crucifixion that we looked at in one of my classes. I can't remember the artist's name or even the exact century the work was created, but what I'll never forget is that Christ had been depicted with these awful marks all over his body from the plague. Our professor talked about how the artist had seen Christ as sharing in and identifying with people's suffering during that time. It was such a horrifying, grotesque image, but it told such a beautiful truth. Christ endured betrayal, mockery, and torture, and he even cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" as he died. He walked willingly through the worst on our behalf, loving and forgiving all the while. He's intimately acquainted with any of the pain and grief and suffering we might face, and we can be assured of his love, his presence, in our times of hardship. I think that's especially important to keep in mind now. But I think the best part is that we know that the grave wasn't the end of the story! Jesus rose again. The resurrection makes me think of Psalm 30:11: "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness." In God, there's hope and there's joy and there's goodness and there's so, so much more love than we could ever imagine.
Lucy Tian '22
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43: 2-3a
In the past month, this verse continuously came to mind. There are many things that threaten to drown my spirit. There are many things that are drying up joy in my life. But God promises to never leave us when those things happen. He promises that we will not be defeated in them. This verse reminded me that He promises this out of His immeasurable love for us. As I go into this Easter weekend, I’m reminded to remember the greatest act of love God did for all of humankind, and remember how He never stopped loving us.
Claire Lin '23
Right now, as I’m sitting in my room unable to leave the house under state-mandated shelter-in-place and watching the torrential downpour outside my window, I can’t help but think about Palm Sunday, and how different life must have been during Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Crowds gathered outside, spreading cloaks and branches along the road, shouting “Hosanna!” as the Lord Jesus rode into the city (Matthew 21:1-11). But while we cannot gather in crowds, I think “Hosanna” is a cry that should be even more so in our hearts as we consider this pandemic and the approach of Easter. “Hosanna” is a Hebrew expression that means "save”, so I’m praying that God would use the suffering and grief of coronavirus as a narrative of redemption—that even though we might not fully understand why God would let something like this happen, that we would trust that God has a greater and far more glorious plan in mind (Isaiah 55:8-9). Because ultimately, the Gospel is an ongoing story of redemption, isn’t it? “Hosannah” is also an exclamation of praise—praise for the redeeming work He has done—so with the coming of Easter, I am also reminded to praise God for how He has saved us. And as cheesy as this sounds, I truly believe that the Gospel—that Jesus would come down to earth and die for sinners who rejected Him and sentenced Him to the cross (possibly the most painful and humiliating way to die), and then give those same sinners the chance to become children of God and heirs to a glorious inheritance—is the greatest love story ever told. How could anything beat that? This vast and incomprehensible love given to people who deserve it the least—how could we not praise a God who has saved us so completely? And so in light of everything that is happening in this world, I think there is a certain comfort knowing that we are holding onto a faithful and loving God who can use all of it for redemption.
Julius Gingles '21
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
This picture was taken 2 years ago when I was in Puerto Rico (PR) to help provide relief for Hurricane Maria. When I was there, I truly felt like God’s presence was with me. The joy and faith I felt increased each day I was there. Though I didn’t speak much Spanish nor know many people residing there, PR felt like a second home; the hospitality and love that was shared between/among the locals and volunteers was unmatched to anything I’d ever felt. When I left to return to school, I felt like I couldn’t feel God’s presence and intimacy as I once did being there. I thought that that kind of intimacy only came in particular places under certain circumstances. However, over time, I’ve grown to learn that God’s presence isn’t stagnant at one place at a given time. Something a good friend told me recently is that God’s dwelling place is wherever you are, no matter the location. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!
Charisa Shin '22
To me, the story of Easter embodies 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." The story of the Gospel reminds me on a daily basis of the depths of my sin, but also of the grace and power of Christ's death on the cross, in transforming my weaknesses for His great glory.
Jenny Currier (Brown Staff Christian Fellowship)
"Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come."
On the first Passover, recorded in the book of Exodus, we see that God’s people have been asked not only to remember the Passover supper, but to keep vigil. Centuries later, Jesus asks his disciples to do the same on the first night of Passover, which we know as the Last Supper. Stay here with me. Keep watch. Pray you don’t fall into temptation. At my church (Church of the Redeemer), after the Maundy Thursday service finishes and the altar is stripped, those of us who remain enter a small office, our “Garden of Gethsemane,” where we watch and pray for as long as we’d like. The latest I’ve ever managed to stay was 11:00pm. But today, we are homebound. Even if we cannot wash one another’s feet or share a Passover meal (or the bread and wine of the new covenant), perhaps we are still invited to keep vigil, and to honor the Lord for generations to come.
Isaiah Spencer '21
Of course Easter means so much to me as a Christian. The death of Christ for our sins and His resurrection to signify that He is alive with us today is the ultimate meaning of Easter. But if I can be honest, I don’t usually celebrate this holiday with joy and gladness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry or upset when Easter comes along. It’s just with the repetitive story every Easter, the same plays and songs, and all the Easter bunny fights, I’ve grown cold to the resurrection story. It’s sad to even hear myself say this. I want to learn again this week that Christ saved me, and I not only want to understand it but I also want to receive joy as well. I want to change how I live each and every Easter instead of just going through the motions, and I want to celebrate like never before because our King is alive today!
Anna Delamerced MD'21
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Amidst the joys of life, we will also experience pain and hurt. Right now, it may feel like we are walking through a dark valley, unsure of what will come. Psalm 23 reminds me we can find courage and strength in Jesus, the Shepherd who walks with us and carries us. God leads and comforts with a guiding, sovereign hand. He will never leave or forsake us. His presence sustains and refreshes the soul. As Easter approaches, I’m reminded of how our Savior walked through the darkest valley – suffering and dying on a cross, bearing the weight of our sin - to rescue us and give us eternal life. Because he walked through the darkest valley, we can have a sure and steadfast hope; we can walk through even the most difficult of times, trusting and knowing that He is with us, always.
Karis Ryu '21
One of the biggest things I struggle with is being ashamed of who I was in the past, whether that's who I was in high school, the first year of college, or just the day before. Being home with a loving family and food, is a blessing, but emotionally there are moments when being in South Carolina, where I felt lonely, undesirable, and worthless as a high schooler, petrifies me. Even though I know that life has changed since then, the fear that I am trapped to forever be that scared and volatile person is potent. But a verse that comes to mind is 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." This Easter, I won't be at a church. I won't be able to congregate with friends or go outside. But what is the same is the Christ who died for me. He loves me so much he gave his life for mine, and his resurrection is proof that I have been given new hope to live.
Joseph Delamerced '22
How do you feel God’s love? Ask me that question before I come to Brown, and I will not have a good answer for you. I will say that God probably loves all of us, and that it’s not quite clear to me how He shows it. “Are you Christian?”, you might ask me. “I think God is real,” I’ll respond. I’ll avoid your question. Easter points to the transformative power of Christ. As a freshman, I wanted to learn more about who Jesus was and what believing in Him meant. I had every reason to be lax about understanding faith. Yet learning more about Christ has been the most important and fulfilling part of my life. To know God is to understand love, as 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Christ’s sacrifice for us and his resurrection points to His love for us - He died so that all who believe in Him would have eternal life.
Anthony Bomba '20
Passion Week celebrates Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection, events that established hope for the world and are the building blocks of our faith as Christians. But we should always remember these moments. Christ’s sacrifice should remind us of God’s unconditional love for us; the love led Him to give up his only son so that we could have an opportunity to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. And Christ’s resurrection should serve as a reminder that God is all powerful, always in control, and always fulfills His promises. Keeping these things in mind is essential, especially amid a global pandemic. During such an anxiety-inducing and fearful time as this, it can be hard to see God’s goodness, understand His motives, or have faith that He will reveal Himself in the midst of our struggles. But remind yourself: the miracle that was Christ’s resurrection guides us through these doubts and restores our faith.
Grace Kim '23
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking... I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us.
It was a hard day of admitting my failures to my professor and myself. The crying from MacMillan hall returned as I sat at church singing John Mark McMillan's lyrics (coincidence? ahah). Though I failed to prepare for my exam and to first go to God for help, I knew that God still loved me and forgave me through Jesus. I was struggling because God loved me. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." - 1 John 4:18 People, believers and non-believers alike, often forget that forgiveness through LOVE is first and foremost the true meaning of the gospel. Though an orgo test is nothing compared to a global epidemic, the greatest love story I know continues to give me hope, comfort, and meaning to all this.
Mikaela Carrillo '21
When Jesus was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And Jesus vanished from their sight... And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Growing up in church, knowing who Jesus is can become very matter-of-fact, devoid of wonder and intimacy. That's what happened to me. This last year I have wrestled with God to better know and love Jesus. As I dig deeper into relationship with Jesus, I continually come back to this: Jesus makes Himself known in the breaking of the bread, in the breaking of His body, for me and for you. It is in beholding His sacrifice on the cross - which sets you free and makes you adopted into the Kingdom of God - that you enter into the wonder and intimacy of knowing Him.
Cindy Won '20
Recently, I’ve been struggling with sin in my life. I would go through the motions of what “a good Christian” should be doing, but more so in order to prevent standing out from the Christian community in a negative way. By the end of February, my relationship with God felt empty and distant. However, with recent events, God has continued to call me from the opposite end of this emptiness and to remind me that my relationship with Him is restored by Christ, even if I feel otherwise. Philippians 2:7 says "Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." This verse reaffirms the sacrifice that Christ made, to reconcile the chasm that used to exist between us and God. Ultimately, my sin does not define who I am as an individual, but rather the fact that Christ has died for me and loves me.
Jared Jones '22
During this time, I have been blessed by songs sung by Travis Greene. He was an artist whose music helped me get through my first year here at Brown, and his music made me remember God's love. His song, "The Breaker,” reminds me that He can break us to position us for good, even though it may not feel good. God can come and bestow upon us love, peace, and joy. But sometimes, He must break us to do so, and if we let Him, He can use this brokenness to bring us closer to Him. This section is the first verse and chorus: "It may not feel good to me but it is good for me To be broken by you Will keep your hand covering me I'm free when I'm broken by you My life is safer, when I get to the breaker Bring my mistakes, to the hand of the maker Who I am is hidden, behind who I failed to be My life is safer, when I get to the breaker."
Paulo Baptista (Brown Staff Christian Fellowship)
In a snap of a finger, Christ has risen. In a snap of a finger, a bird shows up by your window. A lot can happen in a moment. The apostles feared for their lives during a horrible storm. Jesus was below deck sleeping. During this tempest, the worst they ever experienced, they woke up their savior. In a snap of a finger, Jesus calmed the storm. Moments of complete awe, wonder, clarity, confidence and presences imprint on everyone’s life. They happen in a snap of a finger, and that presence lingers and eventually dissipates. Our Father has given us the Holy Spirit. Think of the Spirit as charcoal. After catching fire, the heat dissipates, the glow dims, but God, in a snap of a finger, gently blows on our heart, and the Holy Spirit glows bright again, providing light, heat, power to do God’s beautiful will. I pray that the Holy Spirit comes alive over and over again, maybe when you hear someone snap a finger.
Jeremy Wang '22
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
2000 years and insidious cultural dilution have robbed the cross of its power over us. But spend a little time reflecting, and Jesus' sacrifice on the cross suddenly gains an aspect of profound surprise. A literal God would die for us? And what a death it was! Cicero, who considered the death sentence a near-parricide, could not bring himself to name or even describe crucifixion. With wrists and feet pierced by nails, lungs filled with fluid, body bound, bloody, and battered, Christ gave up His spirit for the forgiveness of our sins. How absurd is that? I can hardly be bothered to do something as mundane as wash the dishes for my own parents, but a perfect God would willingly subject himself to excruciating death for the sake of sinful strangers. If it weren't for the fact that He came back to life, I wouldn't be able to live with the shame of having killed this Man. But resurrect He did, forgiving our sins in the process, and because of this, I can strive to live a life that reflects His love.
David Suarez '21
"Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:8-10
God has revealed Himself to me most in my weakness. In my early life, there was not a speck of hair on me that could escape my self-judgment. I recognized my weaknesses, my inabilities, and each of my mistakes every moment. I could recognize the truth that I was weak and flawed, but I would use these aspects of myself as justification for God having made a mistake when He made me. Yet God loved me and would not stop pursuing me with His Love.
As I grew older, I came to a Bible study over the New Testament's Gospel and 2nd Corinthians. In it, God revealed to me a truth (THE Truth) that I had not wanted to accept before: that He was truly all-knowing and fully benevolent. He did not make mistakes, and it was in the verse above that God revealed to me how my human weaknesses are places where God can work in me and make His Glory and Powerfully visible and present. There, the Truth spoke and my ears were open to hear it. I may be weak, but God's Power is strong in me. And Jesus Christ, the "Son of the Living God", lived a truly perfect life and died a torturous death so violent that "his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness (Isaiah 52:13-15);" He died for me because He loved me while still knowing my weaknesses. If the only perfect Human to have ever lived, Jesus, had died for my salvation, then I must rejoice knowing that I am loved and that God can do Good and Mighty things through me!
Christopher Ng '21
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
This is the reality of desiring to live righteously—I am constantly at war with my own selfish and destructive desires, and I often lose the battle. When this happens, is it not second nature to feel condemned? That I am so weak, spineless, useless (insert negative adjective here) that I don’t deserve the mercies of God? The truth is that those thoughts make sense—they come from a place of understanding the gravity and weight of sin, but misunderstanding the power behind Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was through that work that he set me under the law of the “Spirit of life”. Jesus himself does not condemn—he simply asks me each time to “Go now and leave your life of sin.” And it is precisely his sacrificial gift of grace that releases me from condemnation under the law of sin and death, instead empowering me to embrace the freedom that comes from living rightly under the law of the Spirit of life.
Naveen Abraham '23
As I write this on Good Friday, I think about how Jesus had his life “well set”. There was no personal need for him to suffer on the cross for us, but with the sinful chaos around him, God’s greater purpose for Christ was to serve as the ultimate sacrifice, to forgive us of our sins, to save us from our own plights. We typically emphasize a sense of reflection and awareness during Lent and a sense of gratitude during the Triduum, but I think it’s also important to ponder what we can emulate from Holy Week in our own lives as well. Perhaps we can be like the “well set” Jesus who still sacrifices our time through prayer and encouragement for someone else while they encounter multiple challenges we may or may not be aware of. Important now more than ever, as we celebrate Jesus’s rise from death, let us celebrate each other’s rise from our own obstacles.
Emily Ma '21
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7
The hyssop I painted in this picture means to me many things.
The stalks of this hyssop plant had been used by Israelites to paint their door frames with the blood of the Passover lamb. The blood saved the Israelites’ firstborn from the Angel of death. This is one of the plagues that God used in his plan to free the Israelites from hundreds of years of slavery when they lived in exile– in an oppressive Egyptian Empire.
The stalks of this hyssop plant had also been used by Jewish priests to ceremoniously cleanse people who have been healed of skin disease, leprosy. In those days, when people were diagnosed with leprosy, they had to endure a period of exile, or what I now call a quarantine. They needed to shave their hair and dress in a way that would warn others of their disease so people don’t come into close contact with them; they had to live outside of their community until they are healed; during that time, they cannot go to worship in the temple; anyone who comes in contact with them will also need to be purified before re-entering their community.
During the first century, the long stalk of the hyssop was then used to hold up a sponge, dipped in vinegar, to reach Jesus when he was crucified on tall wooden planks. Jesus was sentenced based on the grounds of sedition. Crucifixion was an extremely painful and dehumanizing punishment, used by the Roman Empire as a political tool to generate fear, suppress revolt, and maintain imperialistic power when they ruled over the Jews. Being fully God and fully human, Jesus cried out that he was thirsty, and took sips of the vinegar before he breathed his last breath.
He assumed our thirst so that we no longer need to thirst in our daily striving for love, acceptance, fleeting moments of gratification.
He went through an unjust, wrongful death sentence so that we can experience eternity, and gave us a reason to organize with the marginalized to fight for a world where power is not used by a small handful of people to oppress, to exploit, and to divide others.
He poured out His blood so that we don’t need to go through quarantine to re-enter His presence, to experience a source of peace in a violent world, stillness in the storm, hope of restoration for those who have lost dear things (health, jobs, loved ones), and perseverance in knowing that our seasons of exile and suffering soon shall pass.
Even better, He resurrected so that we would actually have a basis for all these things– not just empty promises! Thank you Jesus, for your grace that I do not deserve!
“Cleanse me with hyssop,
and I will be clean;
and I will be whiter than snow.”