Forty-four days ago, on the first day of the Lenten season, we began this journey with John the Baptist and found ourselves, with him, "preparing the way" of the Lord. On that day I wrote about our call to preparation for the Lenten journey; a call not to concern ourselves with outcomes but to be about the business of making ready. I offered this prayer--and I offer it again today:
God, help us in this season to accept the call to preparation, even when we may never see a culmination of the effort. Give us clarity about what it is that we are preparing for. Grant us courage in the face of finality, when we're forced to let things go. Keep the Easter hope alive in us; remind us always of your power over death.
Today we stand by a sealed tomb, with broken hearts, but with a sense of nervous anticipation--practically holding our breaths, confident that something is yet to happen. We've watched the end of the story, seen the body removed from the cross and the stone rolled into place, but we hold out hope that it was not an end at all. We trust it is, instead, a "To be continued..." And so here we are, once again, on a new Day of Preparation. Not a foreword or an introduction, but still readying ourselves for a journey unlike any we have known.
This is a journey back into life.
Are we prepared for what new life means?
We can't pretend death doesn't happen--because it must, so that there can be a life that is abundant even beyond the grave.
We can't pretend the old days don't matter--because a new existence is built on the promises and precepts of the past.
We can't pretend we're not afraid--because only when we commit ourselves in faith can we finally lay our fears at his feet.
And we simply cannot pretend that letting go is easy--because only through the pain, through the loneliness, through the tears, through the silence of the tomb, can God break through again and again to show us what it really means to live.
Let us pray:
God, help us on this day of preparation once again to make ready the way of the Lord: a new way, a new life. Prepare our hearts for resurrection--to be raised with your beloved Son to walk with him, offering a wounded world hope that death no longer has the last word. As we wait for the dawn to break on a new sabbath, prepare us for wonder. Prepare us for celebration. Prepare us to see you again.