Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia, Christ is Risen! And just like that our Lenten journey and walk through Holy Week leading to the celebration on Easter Sunday has seemingly come and gone in the blink of an eye. Thankfully, Easter is not simply one day, but an entire season celebrated through May leading up to Pentecost. This is great news!
So enter the faithful into Eastertide. But now what? What is a Christian to do during this time? As Christ’s faithful people, we must make a conscious effort to carefully keep in our hearts what we’ve learned during our Lenten journey and combine it with the joy of the risen Lord. While we’ve spent time fasting, praying, and being more charitable, these actions must serve to set a new tone moving forward. They serve as a call to make permanent changes in our lifestyle, for these values within our Christian faith are not only applicable during certain seasons of the calendar.
Quite often, we look forward to certain times of the year more than others. If we were to hold a survey, I’m sure Christmas and Easter would top the charts. Personally, I anticipate Advent and Lent, the latter being my favorite. I appreciate the fasting, the spiritual examination, and reflective time spent in prayer. I enjoy finding myself sitting alone in our sanctuary during this time. But in these favorite seasons, we develop certain expectations. Frequently, we expect it to feel the same way every year, the way it did when it became a favorite. The music, the décor, etc. But sometimes it just doesn’t connect, and it can really derail us. That was the case for me this Lent. I was distracted, distant, and it bothered me deeply. Before I knew it, Easter was finally here, and I just wasn’t ready. How can a faithful follower not be ready for the glorious resurrection of our Savior? That seems preposterous! But sadly, it was my reality this year as I simply went through the motions.
And there’s the rub! Through this hurdle, it made me realize that there are many things in this life for which I’m not ready. I’m not ready for my children to grow up so quickly (have you seen how big they’re getting?), not ready to embrace the challenges of aging friends and loved ones, changes in friendships, not ready for changes coming to my career, and the list goes on. But with that, I recall the Good News of Jesus Christ! I, and we are not alone in our struggle. We learn that in the garden, Christ struggled with being ready to see the will of the Father through to the end. And while he felt alone, through the love of the Father, he surely was not. He knew the final glory and the price for our eternal life was worth the temporary discomfort and suffering. With His resurrection we are all brought into a newness of life. This world needs our charity, our prayers and our desire for that new life.
Perhaps, I did actually observe Lent this year, but in a new way. As I pray for those embracing change, such as the parishioners of Notre Dame Cathedral, the members of Hebron U.M. Church in Millersburg, the devastated families of the Christian Church in Sri Lanka, maybe you too are struggling with change in your life. With the gift of new life that Easter and springtime brings, I remind you that you are not alone! There is a place for you here with God’s people. If you haven’t attended worship, it’s time to come home! You are missed, you are wanted, and you are needed to join your love of Christ with others to do His work. It may not be the same as it was before. And you may still not be ready. But, come home. Serving as your deacon continues to be a blessing in my life. Peace be with you. +