I had an unexpected and powerful experience today in an unexpected place. I think you may need a little background to better grasp this experience, so please bear with me. For many pastors and church staff this week feels a whole lot like the opening sentence to the classic book “A Tale of Two Cities.” To be honest this is a book everyone was probably supposed to read and many will claim to have read every page. I however, doubt I ever read the whole thing, but I can throw out the first line to make myself look smarter. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” is a line that rings true this week. I love Easter week and yet I am usually overwhelmed by everything this week is not really about.
This morning I decided to leave the house to go to a quiet and serene location in order to finish or start, depending on how you look at it, preparing for our Good Friday and Easter services. The library is normally my first choice, but because of a horrible mistake I woke up too early and the library does not open until 10. Apparently, in my mind the next most logical place for a quiet and serene preparation place is McDonalds (they do have free wi-fi). As I stand in line to order a healthy and delicious McGriddle meal I begin to take in my surroundings and realize my decision-making paradigm for finding a quiet and serene preparation location needs to be altered dramatically. First, there were very few open places to sit and even fewer that look to have been cleaned due to the excessive number of people ordering the healthy and delicious breakfast value meals. Secondly, I realize there is a constant conversation going on between the very busy workers as they are trying their best to keep up with the ever-growing number of people being drawn to sweet taste of the McGriddle like a swarm of moths to a bonfire. Thankfully, by the time I order, a table has come open. I sprint toward the table in order to claim my little island in the midst of the sea of chaos that is McDonalds.
After enjoying the wonderful McGriddle, I decided to begin/finish my preparation, but before I could even start, my mind started to go through a mental checklist of everything that needed to be done this week. Between preparing for family coming in to town and trying to remember everything that needs to be done for our two services, my mind had plenty of places to wander. Just about the time I am reeling my mind back to where it needs to be, a voice reminiscent of a blow horn bellows through the restaurant, “number 321 please… NUMBER 321 PLEASE!” I said a quick prayer asking the owner of number 321 to please show up at the counter as fast as humanly possible. Finally, I began to focus on my preparation.
I must confess to you that there are times preparing for services and sermons can become somewhat mechanical and routine. This is not to say the Holy Spirit is not involved, but there are times when doing your job feels like doing a job. A hectic week and sitting in the chaotic atmosphere of McDonalds is not the most conducive atmosphere for sermon preparation. As I was reading, thinking and hashing out an order of service I watched a worship video I have seen many times. The final words on the video were, “He is Alive!” That’s it, nothing unusually profound or revolutionary. All of the sudden, in the middle of McDonald’s mind you, my eyes start to tear up. I am fairly sure in the midst of the order calling, cleaning, devouring of McGriddles and general chaos, that not many would notice a grown man balling by himself in the corner; however, I did my best to compose myself. The emotion continued to build and all I could think about was that He is Alive.
On Palm Sunday, I preached about how so many people missed the point of who Jesus was and what he did as he entered Jerusalem. I cautioned us all about how easy it is for us to miss the point as well. There in the middle of McDonalds I realized I had been missing the point. The point is that He is Alive! The preparation of a service remembering Jesus’ death on Good Friday is pointless unless, He is Alive. Preparing for Easter and celebrating the resurrection is pointless unless, He is as Alive and active today as he was on that first Easter morning. In the midst of the chaos of our lives the fact that He is Alive brings purpose, joy, and peace. Do I still need to finish many of the tasks that were swirling in my mind, yes, but those tasks are put into perspective when they fall under the realization that He is Alive.
Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed by the unending list of tasks in your life or so involved in participating in the events of Easter that you forget He is Alive! Who would have thought in the middle of a hectic week while sitting in the chaos of McDonalds I would find the perfect spot of peace and serenity. All because, He is Alive!