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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Practicing for life

The Rev. Betsy Hooper-Rosebrook
Palm Sunday

     I'm ready for Lent to be over. I think I probably am most years, but this year I'm feeling it a bit more. I want celebration and joy and a return to lightness, none of which are immediately evident in Lent. I long for hymns in major keys with upbeat tempos, for flowers at the altar, and for uncovered crosses. I'd like to think a little less about my sins, both individual and corporate. In short, I want a break!
     Our brief Palm Sunday reprieve outside, with its tale of excited crowds cheering Jesus on his way, seems a little like a tease. We do want Jesus to come, to make things right, to be the king who finally gets the world back on track. We long for Jesus to be the remedy for our sadness, for the world's brokenness, for all that we ourselves can't control. But as the parade ends and the rest of the week's events begin, as we immediately plunge back, not just into Lent, but into the most disturbing depths of our humanity, it's pretty obvious that's not going to happen, at least not the way those cheering crowds imagine. The shadow of the cross that has been lengthening throughout the last 40+ days now envelops us fully...and we still have to wait another 6 days to see the fullness of the light of Christ.
     Isn't this how life is? We cannot rush its unfolding. There are times when everything is going so well, when we're full of rejoicing, and we'd give much to prolong those experiences; those days are gifts to be treasured indeed. Then there are the other sorts of seasons, ones that are full of despair or anguish, or which simply drag along in a haze...and we can't do any more to speed them than we can to extend the wonderful ones. Although I imagine Jesus was aware of the transient nature of the parade-watchers welcoming him, surely he must've also longed to stretch it out a little more, to settle into an atmosphere of good cheer, even if those who welcomed him didn't really understand what he was about. And those agonizingly long hours in Gethsemane, in preparation for even more agonizingly long hours on the cross...even the Son of God couldn't speed them up. All he could do was give himself to the moment and to God, which, I will freely admit, is far easier said than done.
     Maybe that's one of the lessons of this Lent for me: that this season is practice for all of life. As much as I long for the hard times to be past or the great ones to last, I don't get to change the timing or the pace or the content. No one, not even Jesus, does, and Holy Week makes that ever so evident. Jesus didn't come to make it all better, but to be with us when it isn't...and when it is. He didn't come to grab power from those who had it, but to give us a vision of a stronger, more enduring power. He didn't come to lift us out of life's challenges, but to blaze a path we can follow for walking through them. He didn't come for adulation and glory, but to serve in all humility. He didn't come to banish time, but to make all time holy. May the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus.

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