It was just about 40 days ago that many people gathered with communities of faith to celebrate Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. We remembered our humanity, the frailty of life and the reality that “from dust we have come and to dust we shall return.” We celebrated the grace, mercy and forgiveness of Abba Father while confessing the sin that is a part of our lives.
As we traveled through Lent we sought times of quiet and reflected upon the way Abba Father met us and helped us grow in our understanding what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We called upon God to help us see Him more clearly and to give us the desire and strength to deepen our faith.
On Palm Sunday churches were filled as we remembered the Messiah’s entry into Jerusalem. Children marched around sanctuaries waving palm branches as they joined in the recreation of Jesus’ riding a donkey into the city with all the fanfare of royalty.
Holy week brought opportunities for us to focus on the time Jesus spent with his disciples in the upper room. What must it have been like for them to watch as Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist, filled a basin with water and then knelt to wash the feet of each of them? We have celebrated communion within our faith communities so often it is hard to imagine what it must have been like for the disciples that first night when Jesus poured the cup and broke the bread.
Throughout the day today people gathered to remember the day Christ offered his life so that we may know the joy of life to the full. Some traveled the stations of the cross, others relied upon the scriptures to simply tell the story of the crucifixion. It does not matter what form the service took, the focus was on Jesus Christ. We recalled His words from John 10:
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
As we joined together to remember the mocking, beating and ultimate death of Jesus there was an air of despair and quiet desperation. The quiet, solemn nature of Good Friday keep some people from participating. They find it hard, or undesirable, to focus on the reality of what Christ suffered so that we may be set free to enjoy a restored and renewed relationship with God and the world. As we focus on Good Friday we must see the cross, focus on the cross…but also see through and past the cross to the empty tomb of Easter morning.
Sunday morning will be marked with sanctuaries filled with flowers, vibrant songs of worship and praise, along with families gathered together to celebrate the miracle of a life resurrected. The beautiful thing about this entire journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is that it will repeat itself again next year and we will have another opportunity to focus again on the way Abba Father seeks to draw us closer to Him.
May this Easter be a special time as you encounter the grace, mercy, love and renewal that comes through faith in the one who claimed victory over sin and death.