I am a part of a United Methodist Clergy Moms Facebook group. Earlier this week one mom posted about what a “bad mom” she was that she was so late in getting things for her child’s Easter basket, and my immediate reaction was, “Oh no! I haven’t even begun to THINK about that!” Then I was with another group of moms this morning that started talking about how they haven’t gotten Easter clothes for themselves or their children yet, and I started making plans for my annual Good Friday trip to find an Easter dress (to be fair, they all acknowledged that the clothes didn’t really matter!). On my way to the church this morning I was going over in my head all the things I need to put in the grocery order for our Easter dinner and wondering the logistics of hiding the Easter eggs so they would be there when we got home from church (but not discovered beforehand). Lots of preparations to figure out – not to mention all the planning and conversations we at church have been having for weeks with regards to the worship services this Holy Week.
And then it hit me and I had to ask myself, “Am I giving this much energy to preparing to enter into the Mystery of Easter?”
I have loved this language of mystery ever since I was first introduced to it through Jerome Berryman’s work with Godly Play. Through a series of lessons, children are able to begin to experience and grasp the sacredness of this time. The lessons spend time on the dark difficulties of betrayal and death as well as the alleluias and celebration of the resurrection. It spends time recognizing that we don’t get one without the other, and that part of the mystery is that our hope is intricately intertwined with the pain and suffering that can come out of risk taking and sacrifice.
“Am I giving this much energy to preparing to enter into the Mystery of Easter?”
The immediate answer was, “No.” So then, I had to ask myself, “Why not?” And the real answer is that I/we would much rather skip over the hard stuff and jump to the celebration and flowers and resurrection. Those are easier and, let’s face it, much more fun. Yet, I also know that when I have experienced true resurrection in my own life and story, it has been when I have journeyed through hard and difficult times. The experiences of true joy only came because I knew days without it.
And so today, I am spending time preparing to enter into the mystery we experience each year if we allow ourselves to do so. Just as Jesus sent the disciples ahead to prepare for that last Passover meal, I am preparing myself to meet Jesus at the communion table tonight at the Maundy Thursday service. As I prepare to hear our choir share the “Seven Last Words of Christ” (actually phrases) through powerful music on Good Friday, I ready myself to be honest about the ways I participate in sin, personally and corporately, and my desperate need for forgiveness. And I am preparing for those feelings of grief and loss to stick with me through Holy Saturday – to not shy away from them or ignore them.
Then, after spending time in the darkness of hopelessness, I hope to experience the fullness of joy as we encounter Jesus at the Sunrise Service on Easter morning and in community with you throughout the morning of glorious worship and the days ahead.
The Mystery of Easter lies in the fact that it is not just a time of remembrance, of looking back in history. We aren’t just remembering those people’s encounters and experiences of Jesus and what Jesus did. If we choose to enter into the Mystery of Easter, we meet Jesus today. We have our own encounters and experiences of him. We recognize him in the midst of life, death and resurrection this weekend and throughout our lives.
So, I ask this question, “How are you preparing to enter into the Mystery of Easter?”