Dear Holy Week Gardeners,
Holy Week is here. As Lent has passed, we have gotten our hands dirty, turned over soil, allowed God to plant seeds, grown to understand the weeds within our lives, and handed over the pruning sheers to the Master Gardener to start pruning. What will need to be cut away in our lives in order to bloom in new ways for Christ? What is creating an obstacle to the growth of those fruits of the spirit God wants to grow within us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self control. What is holding back the abundant growth of the purpose God has for us, or the healing Christ wants in us?
On this Holy Thursday we are invited to join Jesus in the upper room and hear his commandment to love, seeing it in action as he washes our feet and offers us bread and cup. These are the acts by Jesus which humbles me most. The Savior King, kneeling before me to wash the part of me about which I am most self conscious. Recognizing the strength it took for Jesus to serve bread and wine to the one who would betray him, and the friend who would soon deny even knowing him. Watching as the disciples slept through his prayerful moments of fear and grief. Would I have fallen asleep, too? How did Jesus allow himself to be handed over to Judas and the guard? How did he not fight back with every fiber of his being? How did he not reign down justice with all the power within him? I leave every Holy Thursday service hearing Jesus’ words to the disciples in the garden in Luke 22:39 “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial” and recognize how much I say I want to go with him to the cross, but how weak I am in spirit. I know exactly what the Master Gardener needs to prune on Good Friday, what needs to die in my own life. Pride, control, fear, hurt I hold onto and refuse to forgive. Am I alone in the need for the Master Gardener pruning of my heart?
Tuesday night, my family and I were blessed by so many of you to be able to attend Dear Evan Hansen at the Dr. Phillips Center. It was a gift you gave me on my birthday after preaching about our 2020+ Vision in connection to the songs of this beautiful show. As the actor playing Evan began to sing the most famous song of the show, I could not hold back the tears. Hearing those words during Holy week took on even more significance.
Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
And when you’re broken on the ground
You will be found
Holy Week is the essence of understanding even in our darkest nights of despair, when we feel alone and our actions, behaviors, and attitudes have left us broken on the ground, through the power of the Christ sacrifice on the cross, we are promised we will be found. No matter the pain of pruning and no matter what is left at the foot of the cross, if we surrender to the three days of waiting in darkness, the sun will rise. The promise is sure, we will be found by the one who looks like a gardener himself, but will call us by name. If you know you will be found, are you willing to go to the garden with him and get your hands dirty in these final days?
We will see you for Holy Thursday worship at 7:00 in Founder’s Hall. Come for the invitation to sit at the table with him, recognizing that all of us are sometimes Judas, sometimes Peter, and yet, Jesus still serves us. We will see you Friday at one of the two services in the Sanctuary (6:00 or 7:30 p.m.) where we will take our time and revisit those barrels of dirt from Ash Wednesday. Through scripture, song, and candles, we will empty the soil at the foot of the cross. We may see you at the prayer labyrinth where we will journey in a contemplative choreography of prayer, silence, confession, and fasting from the world, to spiritually draw closer to the one who saves us. We will see you these next days because soon enough…
Easter will come… we will be found, new life will happen where the dead wood has been pruned away and as the actors become the sounds of a gospel choir, and as the darkness of the stage is flooded with light let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found
You will be found
Grace and Peace my fellow gardens, may your souls be tended well,