This summer, thousands of people will gather in Atlanta to run the 50thPeachtree Road Race. Several years ago, I decided to run the race for the first time. I am not a runner, but having been born and raised in Georgia, I felt this was an event that I should try at least one time. I enjoyed the sights and the sounds, but the running was not easy. I can remember turning the corner from Peachtree Road onto 10thStreet heading toward Piedmont Park and realizing that I was in the final stretch – only one more mile to go. I could see the end and I wanted to be sure I would finish strong, so I dug deep for the last bit of strength to finish the race.
By now, we are halfway through the season of Lent and making our way toward Easter. I am excited about the celebration we will have on April 21 as we rejoice over the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection. We will have three services – a 6:45 AM sunrise service at John and Winnie Sullivan’s house (directions available in the office), FirstPlace Easter Celebration in the gym at 8:45 AM, and a classic Easter celebration in the sanctuary at 11:00 AM. I hope you are planning to be with us for Easter and that you will invite someone to be with you. But before we get to Easter, we remember the final leg of Jesus’ journey to the cross.
In Luke 9:51 (NRSV), it states, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke’s gospel does a great job of leading us through the journey to the cross, and it is at this point in the journey where Jesus makes the turn and can see the finish line. He knows what will await him in Jerusalem, so he must dig deep for the last bit of earthly strength and finish the race he has come to run.
The joy of the resurrection is made sweeter when we journey through the agony of the crucifixion. We began the season of Lent with the invitation from the Old Testament prophet, Joel, to “Return to the Lord,” (cf. Joel 2:13). Now as we near the end of this season of Lent, let us stay focused on the cross and the empty tomb that will follow. Let us keep our focus on the death of Jesus and the resurrection of our Lord. Let us keep our focus on the death of our own sin and the new life we receive through Christ.
And let us celebrate that new life as we celebrate this Easter as we remember the mystery of faith: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
To God be the Glory,