The writer of Hebrews tells us that the promise of entering Jesus’s rest is still open to us.
It’s hard for a priest to feel anything like rest at this time of the year.
For many people, Christmas is the busiest time of the year. In America anyway, even if you don’t regularly go to church the Christmas season is super busy. The whole country seems to take on a festive air–filled with deals and a certain chocolatey cheer. It’s a good thing the kids have time off school too, what with all the traveling relatives and New Year’s around the corner and all. It’s busy!
But for a priest the most important part of the faith is the resurrection (though, don’t get me wrong, the birth of the incarnate Jesus is quite important too–for without it there could be no resurrection!); and thus the most important part of the year is Easter.
Tonight we priest-types will finish the three-day drama traditionally called the triduum.
It began on Thursday, Maundy Thursday, with a foot-washing Eucharist. Here we remember demonstrably Jesus’s new command to love one another–demonstrably because it’s through the washing of another’s feet.
Yesterday, Good Friday, we recalled his actual crucifixion with a noon service. Here the altar had been stripped bare (at the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday service); and we placed a rough wooden cross at the front of the nave, listened to the crucifixion story read (John 18-19–no homily at all, just let the scriptures speak for themselves), and recited anthems said only on this day of the year.
And tonight it’s the Easter Vigil, a service that goes from dark to light, from death to resurrection, including baptisms–themselves a picture of resurrection–a service that in ages past was the chief Easter service (and still should be, as far as I’m concerned).
Add to this that every evening leading up to the triduum we celebrated a communion service and that last Sunday, Palm Sunday, was also a special day, and, whew, I’m tired. Between last Sunday and tomorrow I will have been involved in thirteen worship services, some of which I celebrated, others in which I preached, and even a few (four in fact) wherein I did both.
So, yeah, I’m tired.
And here, today, I read words in Hebrews about a promise of rest.
Bring it on, I say!
So I don’t know. During Lent we try to take on a spiritual discipline–whether we fast, write rambling blog posts, pray more frequently, whatever. We also talk a lot about slowing down, becoming more introspective, reflecting, centering, and all that. But I don’t know: maybe being a little busier during Lent and becoming increasingly busier during Holy Week, as we priests must do, and as many a parishioner has done over the past forty days–maybe being a little busier is actually more biblical. For that is more like life.
What I mean is this. We live our lives doing our thing. And life is full of ups, downs, levels, highs, lows, middles, twisties, and straights. We get to the end of it and (though I cannot speak from personal experience) we’re tired out, ready for that promised rest–just as I (and you) are tired out now at this end of Lent, 2014. Then comes the reminder that we are loved with a perfect love, death strikes, and then comes resurrection. Not just Jesus’s resurrection but ours too. And, ah, at long last, we enter into that blessed, promised rest. Amen.
The trick now, of course, is figuring out how to experience a sort of small resurrection in my own life as I face life after Lent. I need to find some time to rest now, to be rejuvenated, so that I can begin the cycle of advent, birth, life, ministry, death, and new life all over again.
Time for a vacation, anyone?