April 2021 Connection

A Reason to Come to the Tomb

When my sister, Mallory and I were kids, our school’s Spring Break was always scheduled for the week following Easter.  Whenever Easter was, Spring Break always followed.  At that time, my aunt and uncle lived in Newport Beach, California, and, for years, invited my sister and me out to visit for that Spring Break week so that we could do lots of fun things without our parents!  After all, isn’t that every kids’ dream?  And so, we’d fly there by ourselves, go to Mighty Ducks hockey games, visit Mickey at Disney Land, and eat delicious Ruben Sandwiches at Ruby’s on the Pier.  This was always a highlight week.
When I think back on those Spring Break trips, some of my best memories are of the leadup time that preceded.  The week prior (which happened to be Holy Week), Mallory and I could barely contain our excitement.  We’d count the hours until our plane would take off and we could sit in our coach seats, sip that first parent-free Pepsi (that’s when they used to give you the whole can), and await warmth, palm trees, and Mickey Mouse.  It just so happened that Holy Week, every year, seemed to be the slowest week of the year.  All that we wanted to do was be on that plane.  If we would have been granted just one wish, it would have been that we could just skip ahead to Easter and get on with the California-bound show!  But, alas, we couldn’t.  We still had school Monday through Wednesday, Maundy Thursday services, Good Friday services, and of course Easter.  But, at least Easter felt like we were on the precipice of the excitement.
As an adult, I still look forward to Easter, and some of those memories still come flooding back to me.  But one thing I have come to discover about Holy Week and the celebration of Easter is that Easter loses so much of its zeal if we skip over the more difficult parts of Holy Week.  In a book titled Falling Upward by a Franciscan priest named Richard Rohr, he makes special note of this: like Easter, no resurrection of any kind as ever taken place without there first being a death.  Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are absolutely essential to make it possible for us to celebrate a resurrection!  If we jump to Easter because we simply cannot wait to celebrate; or if we jump to Easter because Jesus’ talk of death and the cross is just too uncomfortable, then we really will never discover the true depth of Easter’s celebration.
To this end, I want to invite you to fully experience and embrace the discomfort of Holy Week this year, and fight the temptation to jump right to Easter Sunday.  As a church, we will be sharing in these experiences with two unique and very meaningful virtual services.  On both Maundy Thursday (April 1) and Good Friday (April 2), the services will be posted to our various streaming platforms at noon, as well as transmitted in our parking lot via FM radio.   Whether by yourself or with loved ones, I want to encourage you to take part in them.  Easter will come, but it only truly comes if we have a reason to visit the tomb in the first place.
On Easter Sunday, we’ll gather in the parking lot and online from the many places we will call holy ground, and we’ll sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and hear a message of victory over the grave and sin.  We’ll greet one another with smiling eyes and with shouts of Alleluia.  But first, like Mary, we need a reason to come to the tomb with burial spices.
Let us not rush through this Holy Week.  Instead, let us embrace it all.  Only then will we truly appreciate the unmistakable gap between the stone and the tomb.

Christ has died. Christ is risen.  Christ will come again!

Pastor Brian

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