Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Poinsettia That Endures

Believe it or not, I still have a Poinsettia plant blooming at my house. It certainly has lost some of its luster along the way; it looks a bit haggard after nearly four months and will eventually succumb to higher sun angles.  However, unlike the vast majority of Poinsettias that faded weeks, if not days, after Christmas, as of today, mine is still hanging in there.
This Poinsettia has made it all the way to Holy Week!

We often use the term Poinsettia (or Easter Lily) to refer to those who show up at church for Christmas (or Easter) but then disappear about as fast as the flowers that adorn the sanctuary on those special days.  However, the Poinsettia at my kitchen evoked a different image in my mind this morning—one of endurance and perseverance.

We leave the manger in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve feeling upbeat and full of energy and life.  The birth story inspires us, but the ensuing weeks put us to the test. The journey descends into Lent,culminating in Jerusalem with Holy Week. We are asked to follow Jesus into darkness and suffering. It is not a journey for the feint of heart; our true character is revealed.  

In many ways, the liturgical journey we take with Jesus parallels our life’s journey.  It isn’t all that long chronologically (the 116 days between Christmas and Easter this year is actually one of the longer ones possible), but we all know that a great deal of living can happen in the span of a few months.  No doubt we could all name some difficulty, hardship, or suffering we have had to endure since Christmas, something that has tested us during the past few months—whether it be physical, emotional, and/or spiritual. 

As we walk through Holy Week and the cross comes into view, we probably feel a bit like that haggard and faded Poinsettia in my kitchen.  Yes, we made it to Jerusalem—but our bloom isn’t as bright as it was four months ago and our leaves are torn and worn.  It’s a good thing Easter is near, for we surely stand in need of resurrection!

If you feel that way as you reach the end of Holy Week, take heart; know that you aren’t alone.  There are other companions on your journey who are also tired and leaning heavily on Jesus.  Each in our own way, we are all faded Poinsettias hanging in there waiting to experience the beauty of the Easter Lilies.  Walking the journey from Christmas to Easter has taken its toll on all of us, yet there is something we gain in enduring and persevering through difficulty and hardship and choosing to remain faithful—and hopeful—that forms us in a way that nothing else can. 

It’s only as we pass through the darkness, and endure suffering that reaches its nadir at the cross, that we are truly prepared to receive the light shining from the empty tomb and the hope that dawns on Easter morning.

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