Dear Members and Friends,
I suggest we not hurry along, pushed to move quickly. Easter will wait, as it did the first time 2000 years ago. Between today and Easter Sunday, there are mountains to climb, valleys to be visited, last suppers to be held, betrayals, and a death.
The church will probably be full on Easter, but the numbers will be thin Thursday evening. Once that discouraged and irritated me, confirming my prejudice toward people who were keen on the baby Jesus and the resurrected Christ, but frankly not very interested in anything in between. Or, not interested in the heart and core of the Christian faith, but just the two lovely bookends.
I was taught that a negative attitude about people who are Christmas and Easter Christians was not appropriate; easily picked up by those who come only for those two services. Negative vibes from the Pastor toward these big crowds of twice-yearly attendees could not be hidden, and, not healthy for the soul of the Pastor.
I can understand why Christmas Eve services are packed. The whole season of gifts and Santa and music rightly includes going to church on December 24 to sing carols and hear once again the story we all know by heart. It's a tradition.
But Easter is different. The very heart and soul of the Christian message together with the blueprint of Christian values, is summed up in Lent and Holy Week. Skipping over everything before Easter Sunday -- Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday -- is like showing up late for a great banquet, just in time for dessert. It's like taking your seat at a movie for the ending credits and mistaking taking those for the film itself.
Oh well. It may be that way in other parts of our life as well. In your vineyard, you work all year to cultivate the vines, prune them, nurture and protect them, talk to them and, every year, worry if you will have a crop worth selling. You know the whole story behind every harvest. But it's easy for me. I just buy a bottle of your wine and delight in it. I just show up for the ending of a long and arduous process. Work in the vineyard is our life. Easter is popping the cork. Let us be mindful of what went into it.
A blessed Thursday, Friday and Saturday to you all.