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Take a Walk

Do you remember the early days of the pandemic?  We isolated ourselves behind closed doors… ordered our groceries on Instacart… and discovered that you can find almost anything on Amazon.  We created distance even from the people we love most in the world, all to keep us and them safe.  But we quickly discovered that isolation is difficult to bear, so we began to walk… and walk… and walk.  We began to measure our days by how many “steps” we had taken.  We socialized with neighbors as we passed on opposite sides of the street.  The spring turned into summer and then into fall, and before we knew it, we were walking briskly through the winter chill.  Greg and I cherished those walks.  They kept our sanity and gave us space to process all that was happening in our world…. step after step after step… And then life began again, bit by bit… more and more demands… more and more time needed to meet those demands… little time left to take those long leisurely walks.

But this week, I want to encourage you to slow down again, so that you can find time to take a walk.  The walk I hope you will take begins at the gates of Jerusalem, where you will be pressed by a crowd waving palm branches.  Listen to their cheers.  Could this Jesus be the Messiah promised by the prophets of old?  Could today be the day of salvation? (Matthew 21:1-11)

Follow Jesus as he rides a donkey through the gates of the city as the people cheer and the religious leaders scowl.  Continue to walk with Jesus on Monday as he clears the temple (Matthew 21:10-17), and on Tuesday as Jesus curses a fig tree (Matthew 21:1822).

Continue your walk with Jesus through one lesson after another on that holy Tuesday.  (Matthew 21:23-25-46) Jesus taught a lot of lessons on Tuesday, so feel free to focus on just one and let that lesson deepen your journey.

On Wednesday, you will discover that even Jesus needs a rest… Jesus is quiet on Wednesday, so let your walk be a quiet one.

On Thursday, join the other disciples at the Table with Jesus.  Are you the youngest disciple, reclined against Jesus, or perhaps one of the disciples arguing about who is the greatest?  Where will you sit at the Lord’s table?  (Matthew 26:17-35)

After dinner, follow Jesus to the Garden to pray.  Will you watch with Jesus, or sleep with the disciples? (Matthew 26:36-46) This walk will position you to witness the betrayer’s kiss and the arrest.  (Matthew 26:47-56) We would all like to think that we would walk with Jesus even to his trial, but the truth is, most of us would run like the disciples did.

The walk becomes more difficult, more dangerous from here.  Will you walk to the courtyard as the trial begins?  Will you stand with Peter warming yourself at the fire?  Or will you stay in the upper room behind locked doors with the other disciples?  Will you follow Jesus when he is brought before Pilate?  When the crowd shouts “Crucify, Crucify” will you stay silent, or will you speak for Jesus?  Will you remind that angry crowd of his goodness and mercy?  Will you tell them of his healing?  Will you bear witness or hold your tongue?  When they draw the whip across his back, will you turn away from the horror or offer your back in exchange?  (Matthew 27:11-26) When Jesus stumbles under the weight of the cross, will you step up to carry the cross for him?  (Matthew 27:32) Where will you be as they nail Jesus to the cross?  Will your walk bring you close or keep you at a safe distance? (Matthew 27:33-56)

One of the most important experiences for those who visit the Holy Land is to walk the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering.  As you walk with Jesus this year, imagine the ancient cobblestone streets of Jerusalem under your feet, the Passover crowds pressing against you, moving you along the path, all the while the threat of Roman soldiers hangs over you.  I invite you to walk the Via Dolorosa as you prepare for Easter’s triumph.  It is not an easy walk, but you will find the victory of the SonRise will be all the more sweet.

Walking with you along the way of the cross,
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