Missing the Big One. On Holy Week.

With the boys on spring break, we returned late Saturday night from a whirlwind sprint to Arkansas and Tennessee to see family, including a new baby nephew Cooper who’s a chunk of burning love, let me tell you. Under the brilliant moon, we pulled our Subaru into the Lane and aware of how groggy and bleary-eyed we all were, I knew that in a few hours, when Sunday morning rose from the ashes, I would be the only one rousing. So I was off to church and returned home a couple hours later, Bodo’s bagels in tow.

Later in the afternoon, Wyatt, now reoriented to the land of the living, remembered what day it was. “Wait,” Wyatt said, “today’s Palm Sunday. I missed a big one.” He did, of course. But then isn’t that one of the themes of the story? Didn’t most everyone miss a big one? Didn’t most everyone miss the King of the World, the Love of the World, riding into their midst? Didn’t they miss the awful gravity of where he was heading? Didn’t they miss the treacherous path love asked him to take? Don’t we all seem to miss so much?

I miss God riding into my life on a daily basis. I live with a wonder of a woman, but half the time I’m clueless to all the grace she bears into the world. There’s two wild and brilliant and outrageous boys who live with us, and I feel true sorrow when I see how quickly the sands are pouring through the hourglass, a punch to the gut when I have a moment of clarity and reckon with the hundred ways I’m missing opportunities to chunk the tyrannical distractions and just be dad. If that weren’t enough: friendships missed; opportunities blown right past; that Japanese maple blooms with barely a glance; divine invitations unanswered.

But Jesus rode right on into their life. Jesus was not burning with wounded rage on Palm Sunday, and he (astoundingly) wasn’t bent toward fury on that Good, Dark Friday either. It is the way of humans to blunder along, to miss what’s right in front of us. And it’s the way of God to stand and wait, arms open wide, for us to recognize our foolishness and come home. And at the Cross, we find God’s waiting place, the true gathering place, where all who’ve been slow to clue in can finally say yes, can finally receive the welcome God’s been trying to give since forever.

It’s never too late to say yes to love. The opportunities we’ve missed will not ruin us; they will be overwhelmed by God’s embrace. God waits.

Days of Quiet. And Weeping.

jan richardson

Today and the next couple days that follow offer the calm before the storm. Palm Sunday comes with a flurry (though it always seems an eerie day I don't know quite what to do with), and Maundy Thursday will arrive soon enough — those somber final hours before the initiation of the maddening affliction Jesus will endure. On Thursday, the events take on a convulsive pace, spasm after spasm of death. The flurry of revelry subsumed by the fury of rejection. But today and tomorrow and the day after, we have stillness.

Perhaps Jesus needed these days. By now, Jesus was well aware of what was to come, all the perdition he must embrace. Soon, he would pray to the Father and ask if there might be any other way. Perhaps Jesus needed these days with his friends. I wonder the conversations he shared with that motley crew. Those poor fellows always seemed a step behind (or three or four), but how Jesus loved them. I imagine Jesus cherished these quiet hours. And I imagine there was laughter. I suspect there was added tenderness in Jesus' way and words. Death would fall heavy on Jesus; but, God knows, it would also fall heavy on those Jesus loved. The grief of loss can be the harshest burden, especially if you don't know how the story ends; and the gospels paint the picture of disciples who had not a clue of where this story went. Their agony would be great, and Jesus knew it.

Perhaps this was why Jesus wept over Jerusalem on the day he entered the city among the Hosannas and the waving palms. Jesus was alone in his knowledge that the people "had not recognized the time of God's coming" to them. (Luke 19:44) Jesus was alone in bearing the burden of the cataclysm those he loved would suffer. Everyone else rejoiced, but for Jesus the Cross had already begun.