It has been quite the Holy Week here at this old house. Wednesday saw a record-breaking snow storm after a day of 70 degrees. We were without power for over 8 hours; all Easter rehearsals were canceled.
Maundy Thursday morning, we flew to Bozeman, Montana. There was a 3 1/2 hour delay at the Denver airport due to the domino effect from the previous day’s storm that shut the airport down completely for four hours and saw the cancellation of 243 flights. Finally arriving, we drove to Helena, initially in snow but quickly moving past that into a lovely Montana sunset. Other family members were delayed for mechanical reasons and came in at midnight instead of 3 PM, resulting in a last minute “slumber party” in our motel room.
Good Friday morning saw us at the graduation of our daughter from the Montana Law Enforcement academy and the beginnings of her life as a City of Missoula police officer. Today, Holy Saturday saw us flying home, packing John up for his final weekend as temporary pastoral supply in Yuma, Colorado and me trying to wrap my head around the coming Easter Vigil service and the early fully morning facing me on Easter.
This is the first time in my life I can remember not being in church on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. There are no hot cross buns baked, no eggs dyed, no Easter tree decorated, no Easter grass grown. There is snow on the ground and it is supposed to be quite chilly tomorrow. Fortunately, Easter is a seven week season but will it “feel” like Easter morning tomorrow? What does Easter even feel like?
Knowing a story does not have the same impact as walking through the story, hearing the ancient words, re-participating in the rituals of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, participating in the increasing darkness. It was interesting to note the number of people just doing “normal life” on both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The Catholic church in Helena had a full parking lot on Maundy Thursday. Somehow that was comforting to see. For so many, these days are simply the start or end of spring break, another day at work or school, another ordinary day. How do we share the power of these days with them?
Too often, the Church has done a terrible job of communicating the radical change in life the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ offers to the world. People hate Lent because it is “depressing” instead of the bright and hopeful sadness it is meant to be. Good Friday is another day to be made to feel guilty for being human. The Resurrection doesn’t seem to effect everyday life in any kind of meaningful way. Why not go skiing or to Florida instead of church for three days?
I have no answers because I, too, have been guilty of incomplete and even bad theology in my own life. I am only beginning to glimpse the incredible possibilities that Jesus’s death and resurrection offers to me here and now! I am only beginning to understand in a more functional way that I am invited to be fully who I was created to be and that my being fully human is an act of worship and joy. I can’t blame people whose lives are dark and hard and who then find only more darkness and hardness when they have tried to find God. Lord, help us!
Meanwhile, I am going to spend the next hours looking for Easter joy beyond the hot cross buns and chocolate. I am going to try to focus in a way I never have on following Christ through the seven weeks of Easter, even as I do that following in snow boots and a heavy coat.