As I write this letter, there is within me a feeling of panic at how fast Easter is approaching. It feels this year that we have been almost catapulted from Christmas into Lent with alarming haste.
I always find Holy Week a testing time for my emotions as we journey from the celebrations of Palm Sunday, through the agonies of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the emptiness of Holy Saturday and the strange dawning and hope of Easter Day.
This is the same mixture of emotions that I have experienced over the last few months; celebration, agony, emptiness and hope. Whilst my remaining time with you is speeding ahead, many other things in my life seem to be travelling very slowly, much slower than I had anticipated. I have become very impatient with certain situations and have been reminded of a boss of mine saying to me when I got impatient over something we were trying to achieve “This is a marathon, Nik, not a sprint.”
In the modern world we get so used to immediate results. I have seen pictures of the new babies of friends just minutes after they were born. There was a time when a parent wouldn’t see the pictures until a fairly lengthy process of developing and printing had happened. Today, those pictures arrive on my computer screen from the other side of the world. Life is instant and we tend to live life as a sprint rather than a marathon.
During our life’s marathon there will be days when we are making good progress and other days when we feel almost as if we are travelling backwards whilst everyone around us speeds past. Life for many of us isn’t always what it appears to be on the surface.
Whilst Jesus was facing the agony of what was ahead of him, his friends were anticipating something very different. On Palm Sunday he rode into Jerusalem to the cheers of the gathered crowd with all their anticipation of an end to Roman rule and the hope they placed in this king who would lead them to freedom. I can’t start to imagine what was going on in his head and the torment he must have felt.
My prayer at this Easter time is that, as we walk through Holy Week once again, we recognise the things that are going on in each other’s lives, the concerns, the pains and the torments that we cannot possibly see on the surface. The response quite often to the question “How are you?” is “Oh I’m fine!” and once this exchange has happened we can happily get on with whatever we are doing. I ask that if we hear that response from our friends, our families and each other during this season of Easter we take a few moments to hold that person in prayer that God will be close to them in whatever is on their heart.