As it is in Heaven-3.1

How was Lent for you? I am writing on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Part of my prayer and reflection these days centers on that question. Where did my Lenten journey take me?

May I be frank? I don’t like the term “Lenten Journey.” So very much of Lent is spent in the desert where I am not inclined to go anywhere. Rather, having found a good cave, I tend to stay put. Later in Lent the scriptures call for movement. And so I moved to where Jesus was preaching, turning over money changers’ tables and what-all else. But that’s not a journey.

The real journey of Lent, as I see it, starts on Passion/Palm Sunday. We arrive with Jesus at the city gate, or we already are in Jerusalem (however did we get there?)  and we join the crowd welcoming him while waving our palm branches. From there, it is mostly about setting up for the Passover meal or joining together for that meal. There’s lots of drama and symbolism to be sure. There’s not a lot of journeying.

With that momentous supper ended, a real journey begins. We go with Jesus to the Mount of Olives, we follow him (from a distance or closely) once he is arrested. And then there is rest of the story which we call the Way (or Stations) of the Cross. While not a long distance, it is clearly a journey!

Traditional Lenten disciplines have us sacrificing in various ways. We sacrifice time to pray (more). We sacrifice food by fasting, entertainment by avoiding television or streaming. We sacrifice money by giving alms. Where’s the journey? It seems an endurance challenge.

And then Easter arrives and, filled with Joy, we can stop doing all those things because Lent is over.

Wait. What?

Think about it. My father used to give up smoking during Lent. What did he do first thing on Easter Sunday morning? Yup! He lit-up a Raleigh. As a child I gave up sweets, well, most of them. What did I do on Easter morning? As soon as my parents said it was okay, my brother and I dove into our Easter baskets. Lent was over. It was time to rejoice, right? And what says “Happy Easter” better than the solid chocolate of the bunny’s ears?

“. . .as it is in Heaven?” Is it all about getting to enjoy, to indulge?

Let’s pick up that “journey” theme. There is a real journey contained in the Easter readings, one that can carry us the 50 days from Easter to Pentecost. At least, that is what I plan to do this year.

While we never have been able to find a place named Emmaus.  The journey from Jerusalem, where we leave behind an empty tomb and take with us a lot of questions, to Emmaus was supposed to be 7 miles. That’s a good, long walk. For the two disciples making the journey, the scripture tells us that they were talking about “all that had happened.” The conversation was so deep, so intense, they didn’t notice it was Jesus who joined them until they sat down to dinner and recognized him in the breaking of the bread.

Want to live “on earth as it is in heaven?” Take an Easter walk with someone. Talk about the empty tomb, about encountering Jesus, about discovering Jesus in your companion. . .and your companion discovering Jesus in you.

Let’s do this for 50 days and see what happens. Are you in?

Happy Easter,

Fr. Mark

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