What Comes Next
At a recent Music and Worship committee meeting, I made the bold statement, "Easter is three weeks later this year. It must be warmer that day." Despite sunny days and thunderstorms, which I always associate with warm, muggy weather, the temperature has struggled to crawl out of the 40's and low 50's ever since I made that statement. Despite the chill, the stark feeling of the air, having lived in upstate New York my entire life, I know that suddenly the air will warm, drastically. The grey, remote clouds will give way to brilliant sun and heavy humidity. Winter is gone, summer is coming, but before that, we have been preparing for a spring that must arrive, sometime. The question is: what comes next when it does finally get here? How do our preparations for the arrival of spring actually affect our actions and choices when spring finally comes?
Spring is the time for gardens. Other than bulbs transplanted in the fall, the arrival of spring heralds digging and planting, fertilizing, and watering; flowers, vegetables, green, growing things come to life. But before you turn over even one shovelful of dirt, you need a plan for which plants will go in which areas of your garden. You need to know where the sun shines for how long; you need to know how easy or difficult it will be to water, and you need to know what the shade/sun, wet/dry preferences of the plants you wish to cultivate. You must prepare for spring. You must sit down with what you want to achieve, refine your plan, and then wait to implement it until the time is ripe. You may create a starter kit for seedlings while you wait; you may assemble all you need so at the first opportunity you drop all other plans to make your garden. There is work to do to prepare for the arrival of spring, and once it is here, there is more work to be done. What comes next after spring finally wins through, releasing winter's grip on the land? More work, but very rewarding work it is to see or taste the fruits (and vegetables!) of your labor.
In the church calendar, we have been traveling through Lent, the time of preparing in-between the seasons of Epiphany and Easter. Lent, culminating with Holy Week, is vitally important for our understanding and appreciation of Easter, what it means. During lent, as the faithful, we take an examining eye to ourselves, our faith lives. Some Christian cultures encourage members to fast during this time; denominations of the reformed tradition (Presbyterians, Reformed, and many others) see Lent as a time of more in-depth spirituality and a time to add spiritual practices to enhance our understanding of our faith. At the core, Lent is the time to prepare for the suffering of Holy Week, and the joy of Easter morning. When Easter arrives, there is more work to do, but just like your garden, it is beautiful, rewarding work.
This Sunday we celebrate Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem, and then we remember the lonely valley experience of his arrest, trial, and sentencing. It is a day that starts with elation, but as we turn our eyes toward Friday, the remembrances take on solemn gravitas, heavy weight. This is spiritual work to prepare for the joy of Easter.
~Rev. Andrea Joy Holroyd