My best friend and I had waited an entire year to attend this giant summer family music festival. We had saved our money, planned all of the travel details and bought a few new outfits for this long weekend event. Walking the two miles from our hotel to the festival grounds, we were so excited and proud that we actually made it to this rare event. Then the rain began.
It poured rain at a rate that Midwesterners know all too well. No thunder or lightening, just a ton of rain that made my sandals slosh and the entire walking crowd look like very wet rats. As we handed in our tickets and entered the festival gates, everywhere I looked was covered in MUD.
Thousands of people sloshing through puddles and tromping on the lush grass that once looked green. It was a sea of grey–the color of the mud covering all adults and kids, teens and staff. It was awful. Suddenly, I heard one of my favorite singers starting his show. The problem: the stage was 3 football fields in length from where I was currently frozen still.
What would I do? How would I get over to the covered pavilion with the music and the stage?
I would have to walk through all of that mud. Yuck. Once I started walking, I knew we’d be covered in the grey mud and start to look like everyone else–journeying soaking wet, determined to hear the great music, and embracing the mess of it all. So we walked across the mud…and it was cold, messy, slippery and really hard to walk through without falling.
And we made it to the other side! Covered in mud, we huddled together for a wonderful concert. The pavilion was warm and inviting, and strangers were “high five-ing” and dancing, like we had all conquered a challenge together and came out stronger and more joyful on the other side.
You see, that muddy festival day is like Holy Week. We begin with Palm/Passion Sunday and a triumphant parade through town, as Jesus is warmly welcomed up the hill to the festival. Then the rains start to fall, as we journey through the growing intensity and deep hatred that people were starting to feel toward this Messiah; the people who had the power didn’t want to hand it over to some carpenter’s son. Jesus later hosted a meal with his closest disciples, washing their feet, and spent alone time with God in prayer (while his disciples slept). He was then betrayed by a friend, unfairly accused, arrested, sentenced, beaten and killed. Jesus paved the way for us with his ultimate sacrifice of love and his physical life. We humans were given this incredible gift of love through Jesus the Christ, and all we have to do is tromp through the slippery mud and the scary, dark parts of Holy Week to reach the other side.
Holy Week is painful (at least, parts of it). It teaches (and reminds) us that life has a lot of pain scattered throughout. And Jesus, the one we’d never want to hurt, was oppressed and killed by people who were power-hungry. Many of those who loved Jesus merely let the arrest, trial and sentencing happen, out of fear. Some even played an active role in the horrible events. It was a very dark time.
But, you see, each of us has a choice on how we handle problems and hardships in our own lives. We can go around it and try to avoid it (like if I had turned back around and left the festival completely), we can merely stand by and watch the bad things happen, or we can tromp through the muddy pain to journey to healing. We know which way Jesus took. And we can wake up each morning on our journey to healing knowing that we are not alone.
What are you avoiding today? What is it that you need to work through? (We each have something.) Some ways to TAKE ACTION to move through the painful thing: writing it out in a journal, having a cry session, conversation, deep breathing, action plan to journey through this painful thing, etc. When each of us goes through the mud, we will start to heal, learn a ton, become stronger, and we’ll (eventually) be able to help others who are deciding how to face their own pain. No one is immune to painful things in life; however, each of us is in full control of how we deal with the pain. You deserve so much more than to stand frozen in your pain; Jesus continues to teach us that we were not created to wallow in pain but to be healed and to be whole. You are so very loved.
Saturday, April 20: Easter Egg Hunt from 1:00-2:30pm; ages 0-12. Friends are welcome!
Sunday, April 21: Easter Sunday! Sunrise Worship at 7:00 am at Mt. Moriah Cemetery (10507 Holmes Rd) and Later Morning Worship at Holmeswood (9700 Holmes Rd) at 9:00 am.
I pray this is a Holy Week to remember, a time when we can all journey with the Christ who gives his all for all of us.