I try to write this column about one theme. But today I cannot decide. Part of me wants to describe the overwhelming joy unfolding. I could recount the electric energy of 300 folks at the Spring Fling last Sunday, the beaming smiles of toddlers hunting Easter eggs and petting the animals and getting photos with the Easter bunny on a picture perfect Spring Day. Or I might brag on the talented and dedicated church leaders and staff faithfully preparing for the Easter crowds. Or the contagious generosity of members who are tutoring kids at Hartman, setting up homes for Refugees from Congo and rebuilding homes in Puerto Rico. Even the repaved Ward Parkway seems like a reason to rejoice!
But another part of me wants to call our attention to the unspeakable pain that pervades our culture at this moment. I am increasingly aware, and I think you are too, that the teenagers and young adults in our society are facing unprecedented pressures from social media, the ready availability of dangerous substances, and the demands to perform both academically and in extracurricular activities. Our young people are more connected and lonelier than ever before. Similarly, though our economy thrives, families face increasing emotional burdens. I watch families miraculously and compassionately juggle caring for an aging parent in another city while working and raising kids here. I see the toll that depression and alcoholism takes on families. I see the spiritual angst that comes with an unexpected medical diagnosis with long-term implications. Not to mention the political polarization that many families and friends experience. Sometimes, the days feel too heavy.
To write of either the joy or the despair seems incomplete, even disingenuous. Perhaps that is why Holy Week begins with the loud joyful Hosannas. And ends with the desolation of Good Friday. Because most of us live with both unspeakable joy and genuine pain. Holy week is not so much a reminder of the path that Jesus walked long ago. But even more so, a reminder that God walks alongside us now.
Grace and peace,