Thoughts about the time taken for Lent and Easter
As I write this we are about half way through Lent. As I refelct on Lent and Easter it can seem like we take such a long time. Why do we take so long? The church calendar invites us to take our time, to dwell on the events in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and reflect on their meaning for us today. We do this by not hurrying and experiencing these stories from different angles..
Below are some refelctions I am offering the Parish of Gate Pa about why we take this time and what we offer to help people in this time.
From Palm Sunday we offer extra services to help us more fully appreciate the truth and life held in these stories.
On Palm Sunday, March 20th, we will be exploring Palm Sunday in an interactive way, allowing the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem speak in new ways. At 7pm we will again offer a Stations of the Cross service set in the style of Taize.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening at 5.30pm there will be a reflective eucharist – a short quiet service with actions to help us engage with the story of Jesus in his last week in Jerusalem.
On the Wednesday morning you are also invited to join with others from the Diocese at Ngongotaha for the Blessing of Oils and Reaffirmation of Vows service. Please let John know if you would like to attend.
On Thursday at 5.30pm we meet for a simple shared meal, as Jesus and his disciples met for their Passover meal. We will read of Jesus washing their feet, and their will be a chance for you to have your feet washed, and to wash others feet. Then we will walk with Jesus into the shadow of Gethsemane; stripping the church and then hearings the readings for Tenebrae – the service of shadows.
We have now walked with Jesus to Good Friday – a day we struggle with. At 9am we offer a reflective service which allows us to hear and respond to the story of Jesus death. We are then invited to join the ecumenical walk of witness that leaves St. Mary Immaculate at 10.15am and finishing at Holy Trinity at 11am with hot cross buns.
We offer all this to help us stay with this story and not move on too fast. We get to sit with our own reactions and to wonder anew that this is not how God is supposed to operate. These horrific events seem to be all about defeat and loss. If our God is all powerful why is this happening? Because in the life and death of Jesus we meet a God who is building a new community, a new society built on generosity, love, and mercy. The way of God is not through force, not through arms, not through the building of walls, not through the destruction of those who stand against this new community. That is the way of Rome, the way of every empire that has ever been, including the American empire today. There is no hope in this. In the cross we discover the way of God is through powerlessness and humility. The way of God is self-giving love.
Easter Sunday brings the beginning of the Season of Easter – 50 days to explore and reflect on all that Easter offers us. Easter does not fix the Good Friday story – restoring things to as they should be with God of power winning. The resurrection is an affirmation of the way of the cross as God’s way.
Easter traditionally begins with the Eight Days of Easter – from Easter Sunday to the next Sunday. Eight is 7+1. Eight is about new starts, abundance, resurrection. The eight days invite us to restart who we understand God to be and who we are in light of that. The eight days invite us to restart with new hopes and dreams for ourselves, and more importantly, for humanity. Easter invites us to recommit to God’s work building a new community, a new society built on generosity, love, mercy.
The season of Easter is 50 days – 7x7+1. A Sabbath of Sabbaths. Like the Year of Jubilee when all debts were to be forgiven, the land returned to those who had lost it, when the economic and social life of Israel was to be restarted again; so too Easter is when we start again as God intends it. And we are given 50 days, almost 1/7th of the year, to celebrate and consider what all this has to do with us and this world.
We are given time. We do not need to rush this journey of Lent, Easter, Pentecost. May we all take the time to hear anew God’s invitation of life to each of us, and to us as a community. May we take to time to realign ourselves with God’s way of the cross, and join in the way of generosity, love and mercy.