As I write this letter to you today I have so many things on my mind as I am beginning to feel the excitement of the coming of Holy Week and Easter. At the same time, I am getting excited to see the fruit trees getting ready to bloom and hear the delightful sounds of birds singing and children playing outside once again. Just yesterday I saw my first robin of the season and I noticed that the red-winged blackbirds had returned to my birdfeeder. My son-in-law is up at their cabin tapping their maple trees to make this year’s batch of maple syrup. My yard that just a week or so ago was covered with snow is now finally becoming clear and ready for raking. So the season of change is certainly in the air.
You may also be experiencing the excitement of the coming of spring, but for a few more days there’s still a cold chill in the air and you may be lying awake at night wondering if you’ll be able to get all of the things done on your list. I think it is only natural to notice an increase in our stress level as the Easter season draws closer along with the approaching spring time activities. So if you’re getting feelings of being overwhelmed in spite of the warmer weather, sunshine and flowers to come, then please join me for a moment as we consider Jesus and his disciples at the garden of Gethsemane. There, in that garden, Jesus is anticipating the trial and suffering that lies ahead of him so as he often does during important times in his ministry, he goes off to pray. Jesus tells his disciples “remain here and stay awake.” But the disciples are not able to follow that one small request from their master and they fall fast asleep. In this pre-Easter story it is Jesus who is overwhelmed with the time that has come. When we take a few quiet moments to consider this time in Jesus’ life, it kind of helps us to get our seasonal life struggles in perspective doesn’t it?
Even if we fall asleep in our waiting, watching and praying or if we flee in fear and abandon him as the disciples did, when we come back to our senses Jesus appears to us and offers forgiveness. What is even more incredible is that he then empowers us with the Holy Spirit so that we may become strong in faith and go out to serve others who need our neighborly help. This is the hope of our Christian faith: That Christ has risen from the grave and appeared to those same sleepy and anxious disciples and also appears to you and me as we faithfully gather in his name. So let us all keep the faith as we wait, watch and pray together, for as we do, we will also experience the risen Lord saying, "Peace be with you, my peace I give to you."
May the blessings of God’s goodness and God’s promise be with each and every one of you this Easter season.
Pastor Bob Schoenknecht
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Crosse Area Synod of the ELCA and Evangelical Lutheran Church in
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