There is so much to write about this week! There’s yet another vaccination brouhaha going down on Facebook and some parents of disabled kids are suing Disney – and boy, do I have something to say about that. But it’s Holy Week! So rather than be controversial, let’s talk about Jesus.
I normally like to do something Lenten around this time of year. It’s not required – we’re nondenominational Charismatics, which means we don’t really do liturgical. We like the new stuff! But I like to recognize this time of year. It’s important to focus on the reason for Easter – my own sin that brings destruction and darkness and the glorious act of God that wiped it all away. I think it’s important to meditate for a while on the death and suffering of Jesus. Otherwise I tend to just go, “Hey – thanks God! That was great. Well done. Time for ham.” Plus I like ceremony and tradition. There’s something warm and inviting about it – like a comfortable sweater on a chilly day. You put it on and all is right with the world.
So, generally I do give something up for Lent, as a reminder that He gave everything. I plan my Bible reading around the Gospels and I try to incorporate some kind of teaching into our school days so that my children begin to understand the significance of the holiday. We’ve done the kitschy stuff, too, the empty tomb cookies and whatnot.
This year, however, I’ve really only just realized that Easter is quickly approaching. When it first dawned on me, oh, three days ago, that I hadn’t done any kind of preparing for Easter – not even checking Pinterest! I felt awful. I began apologizing to God for ignoring the ceremonial and traditional ways of relating to the season.
Here’s the thing, though. One of the things that fascinates me most about Jesus is that so many people He came into contact with had no idea he was God. That tells me He was a pretty normal guy. He wore normal clothes and talked in a normal kind of way. He wasn’t self-important or overly intellectual. He observed the Holy Days of His faith, absolutely, but he didn’t stand on ceremony. He leveled with people. He met them where they were. And He loved normal, carnal kind of stuff.
Like food. I’m astonished how often Jesus is found eating, or talking about eating, or planning to eat, in the Bible. As the great C.S. Lewis points out, God loves matter. He made it.
So here’s what I’m grabbing onto this week – it may be a little late for elaborate lessons and meals, I’m not sure if I’ll get to a Good Friday service (though I’ll try) and I never did celebrate Lent in the traditional way, but I can still celebrate Christ Risen if I seize the normal moments that reflect Him. When I stand in the first sunshine of spring and enjoy the warmth on my face I can take a moment and breathe a prayer of thanks. When I am surrounded by my children I can remember that He is the one who gave them to me, and it’s His grace that gets me through each day of raising them. I can revel in the gift of prayer, even when it’s during dishes instead of in my special quiet time spot.
I can take a step toward Jesus every ordinary, normal, un-interesting day of my life. Here’s Pope Francis (yeah, he’s Catholic):
“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.”
This is what Easter is all about. In whatever way we celebrate it, it’s about taking a step toward Jesus and realizing that He is there, waiting, with open arms.