It’s been a while. The combination of spring break, other writing projects and living life in a busy household took over and time and creative energy was limited. I thought about blogging, I just never got to it. Suddenly, a couple of weeks have passed since I was here.
The days have been slipping off the calendar. “Mysteriously disappearing” as my son described it to his teacher in Kindergarten. He’s got that right. The whole month of March has “mysteriously disappeared!” I was shocked to see the wooden cross put up on the front lawn of our church, marking Palm Sunday this weekend. What? Palm Sunday? Already? Easter has snuck up on me.
Last year I did the Lent Challenge with Margaret Feinberg and read through the New Testament during Lent. This year Lent passed me by. Honestly, I’ve let a few things pass me by and we are on the eve of Holy Week and my heart, mind and soul are not really prepared. Easter sneaks up on us for many reasons. Most are excuses. At least for me. Busy schedules, sickness, spring projects, the cares of life, take over our lives. They swallow mine whole. I let it happen. I let the idols take over and move God down my priority list.
I’m not a great multi-tasker. I like to focus on one thing and do it well. Sometimes that intense focus removes all else from my sightline. Therefore, Easter is a week away and I’m no where near being ready for it. Not physically, emotionally or spiritually.
Not to excuse myself, but I wonder if the disciples and other Jesus followers felt something similar? Of course it wasn’t called Easter then, but I wonder if that first Easter snuck up on them? They were ready for Passover but they weren’t ready for the cross. Even though they had been warned. Jesus had plainly told them he wasn’t going to be around forever. That the time was near for Him to go back to His Father. Yet I think those closest to Him got caught off guard.
Maybe they didn’t want to hear what Jesus was saying. We all do it. Selectively ignore what we don’t understand or don’twant to deal with. Life without Jesus? They had just left everything, businesses, family, relationships to follow this guy. He’s leaving? No way. Ignorance is bliss.
They may have not understood what He was saying. It would have been difficult because Jesus stood in front of them day in and day out. They were in and out of danger a fair bit. They may have become accustomed to the threats, so they no longer took them seriously. They were ruffling feathers every. day.
Obviously no one expected a mole in their ranks. Talk about blindsided. Jesus spoke plainly about this too at their last Passover supper. Still the words fell on ears that didn’t seem to understand. Can you imagine the shock, hurt and betrayal felt by Peter, James and John, in the garden? By the other disciples as they say Judas walking with the religious leaders?
I’m sure, that night and for the next few days, the disciples felt like Easter had snuck up on them and then hit them squarely between their eyes. Their Master was arrested. It wasn’t a hiccup. It looked serious. Their friend and colleague, a traitor. They probably couldn’t find their equilibrium. What had just happened? That question must have haunted them over the next three days.
Although I prefer to be prepared for Easter, honestly being hurled into Holy Week is often the more common experience. I’m not saying it’s right. That we shouldn’t be prepared. At times, it’s just the way it goes. Remembering the events leading up to the cross, I don’t think our experience is new.
The clues, the hints, the bold words of Jesus and scripture all pointed to the cross, but for whatever reason, the disciples missed it and suddenly Easter was upon them. They were unprepared.
Unpreparedness makes us run away just like the disciples upon Jesus’ arrest. It can make us lie and betray like Peter. It can make us follow at a distance, watching like John. Don’t get too close because that would mean we might have to own up to something, like we knew him. Witness something we don’t want to. Like our own sin.
Unpreparedness sometimes can jolt us into reality. The blood, bruising, and anguish can bring erase lies like nothing else. The revelation of the truth of Christ’s prediction that Peter would betray Him, brought Peter to his knees. Truth can do that – bring us to our knees. It ushers in hope.
The hope that I see in all the disciples unpreparedness for the first Easter, is it’s never too late. They ran like cowards, fear hounding them. They lied and hid. They all betrayed their Master because no one stepped forward to defend or stand with Him.
Guess what? It wasn’t too late for them. Because that Easter that snuck up on them, brought life to their dead souls. It ushered grace and love into the world like never before. Hope filled the earth. Forgiveness was theirs for the asking. Later, as promised by Jesus, Holy Spirit filled these unprepared disciples in a display of power that you and I can only imagine. At best it would be a glimpse.
It’s not too late for me. Or you. To get our hearts prepared for remembering the grace, the love, and the forgiveness that dripped as blood and sweat, off the cross, from the body of Jesus. God’s only Son. That He gave to save us from ourselves, our sin and our unpreparedness.