By Debbie Lee

 

To be honest sometimes the holidays arrive catching me by surprise. Without the sense of anticipation and preparation they can come and go like any other day. I feel this way about Easter right now. Even though Easter falls on quite a late date this year, the past three months have felt like a whirlwind and I feel like I’ve been picked up and dropped into April without knowing where the time has gone. The season of Lent marks the beginning of one of the most important dates in the Christian calendar. Lent is a time of reflection and meditation upon the last days of Jesus, his crucifixion, and his coming resurrection. Usually it serves as a reminder that Easter is coming, but boy did I miss it this time around. People walking around with smudges of black on their forehead on Ash Wednesday seems like a distant memory.

So when I think of Easter this year, it’s not so much about the joy and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. That’s a most significant part, absolutely. But today my thoughts go more towards Good Friday. I think of my calendar wishing there was more me time; I come home tired, working at the rhythm of a mundane life. I think about how much I am hoping for summer to come, and I think, too, that there must be more to my life. I feel like I’m perpetually waiting.
Good Friday is a lot like that. There is great tension in the waiting. It’s a day terribly heavy with sadness. Contained in this day is a sense of despair, longing, questioning, waiting. It is a day where we ponder the suffering of a most gentle man. What agony did Jesus go through being tortured? Why did Jesus choose meekness instead of power to overcome sin? It is a day where we ponder on the grief of dashed hope. Was not Jesus the Messiah? How could he have died? It is also a day to think on and look to the glimmer of new hope offered to us in a seemingly impossible way…a day where death is defeated…but not quite yet. It is a day we contemplate that the Gospel is so much about waiting. That waiting always feels like forever until it isn’t.
When I left Boston to go visit New York City this past Friday, the Public Gardens looked like winter. Bare branches, mud, and a lot of gray. Walking through the very same space on Monday was a radically different experience. Over the weekend the trees budded, branches displaying blossoms of color and life. Tulip shoots were pushing through the soil and the pond was filled anew to invite ducks to swim in its waters again. I walked through the Gardens with a sense of awe and surprise. Such sudden change! This happens every spring and yet waiting for it in the bleakness of a never ending winter threatens to erase memory of it. Waiting begs the question, “Will it?”
This Easter I ask that question again in my own heart. We all know spring always comes and Jesus resurrects. But how real is it for us? As I observed the beauty of nature this past week I reflected more personally about Jesus’ resurrection power in my waiting. In many ways we live in the tension of Good Friday – the now and not yet. So I thought on hope. I thought on how hope in who Jesus is brings his resurrection real in my heart. I thought on how sure and steadfast this hope is, how tangible, just as the cherry blossoms are in the Gardens. I thought on how biblical hope is confident expectation, because Jesus DID rise from the dead and because of that he will return. So I wait on that because waiting on that makes waiting on anything else just an added bonus.
I want to encourage you in this Easter season to not rush past this opportunity to wait, to expect, to grieve, to hope. As we live out our faith journey in waiting on Jesus, may the tension of Good Friday make ever so sweet and real the promise of new life on Easter Sunday.

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