One of the things that happens (at least in my experience) to pastors after Easter is something I call “the drag.” It’s a general lack of energy or malaise. Nothing’s really wrong, but it’s a little harder to focus or to find inspiration. There’s been this huge build towards Holy Week, and afterward it’s easy to feel “meh.”

It’s something that, after 6 years in ministry, I am still learning to cope with. I know it is coming and I am learning to be kind to myself, to give myself a little leeway during this period. It doesn’t last forever, which is good. But it’s also Nora time I can afford to just take off. There are still things to be done, meetings to attend, services to plan and execute. So what I am learning is how to balance the “to do” list with some time for rest and recuperation.

If I am not careful, this could be a time when I work too hard and end up dealing with illness or burnout. On the other hand, it could easily become an extended time of low-energy or even depression.

The trick is finding balance. And balance is a tricky thing to find.

I think the same could be true in a general life of faith. There are these “high points” throughout the Christian year…but what about “the rest of the time”? Do we get ourselves all psyched up and ready for the holy seasons and then just fall away afterward? I hope not. I certainly think that was not what Jesus had in mind for his disciples. I am certain that Jesus had in mind the kind of faith Paul describe in his letter to the church in Colosae:

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6, 7 NLT

Followers of Jesus are followers of Jesus whether it is Holy Week or just a random Tuesday in any month of the year. We are meant to be rooted and grounded in Him. We are meant to have a steadfast faith, no matter the season.

And while trying to balance rest and the work that must be done, I find it helpful to remember that.



Good Friday is always a struggle for me. I love Jesus and I am so very thankful for all that he accomplished on the cross. I am glad we take time to remember and recognize his sacrifice. And I am not averse to sad stories and sad songs. In fact, people who know me well, know that my favorite movies, books and songs are the ones that make me cry a bucket of tears before they are through.

So you would think I would be in my glory on Good Friday. But I struggle this day. I think it is because the pain Jesus went through is more than any anguished character in fiction. Jesus wasn’t just living out a tragedy for the sake of a good story. He was defeating my sin. The things that I do wrong, the hurt that I cause in this world, the parts of me that are broken ad dark and horrible – those are the things Jesus faced and healed on the cross. Only – not just for me. For every person who ever lived. The burden is too big to imagine. Too vast to comprehend. And he didn’t deserve any of it – he was spotless, whole, clean.

This subject is so heavy, I can only dwell on it for a certain amount of time. It hurts my heart to think of it, and so once the worship service is over, I move on. Not in order to forget, but because I simply cannot dwell on the subject for too long. It’s too painful

My practice has been to spend Good Friday amongst friends. Today, I stood at the foot of the cross in the morning, and then laughed and cuddled and shared food and a silly movie with my friends and their children. I believe times like this are a gift from God, and I believe that Jesus was our honoured guest as we spent one together today.

Good Friday is a dark day in the Christian calendar. But it is also a good day. Because sin and death and darkness were defeated on this day. Because Jesus chose to love each of us more than his own life. And so every year I come, and I spend time at the foot of the cross, and I remember.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8 NIV



Thursday of Holy Week is called Maundy Thurday. Maundy means “mandate” and is a reference to the new commandment Jesus have his disciples while at table with them:

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:34, 35 NLT

This is also the night on which the first Communion (Lord’s Supper, Eucharist) was celebrated. It was the night during which Judas lead the chief priests to the garden of Gethsemane an betrayed Jesus with a kiss. It was during this night that Jesus healed the soldier’s ear. And it was during this night that Peter denied Christ three times.

These stories are so well known to me. And every year they bring me to tears. I believe it was all part of God’s plan from the beginning. I believe it all had to happen exactly as it did. I believe Jesus knew exactly what he would face in the final days of his life. And I believe he went there willingly, out of his deep love for humanity.

Still, it breaks my heart that his pain and suffering was necessary. And it continues to be necessary because of me…because of us.

This is a tough night for me each year, in my walk of faith, and tomorrow will be even more difficult. But you can’t get to the salvation am celebration of Easter without walking through the dark and difficult days leading up to it. And there are things to be learned on a dark night like this. Not the least of which is how very thankful I am that Jesus went there for me, and for you.


On Wednesday of Holy Week we find this occurring:

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
Mark 14:10, 11 NLT

Judas’ betrayal is not spur-of-the moment. It is planned. “He began to look for opportunity…” Those words break my heart because they show that Judas has truly turned against Jesus, against his mission and ministry. Judas is no longer focussing on bringing the Kingdom of God into reality. He is looking for an opportunity to betray the One who fulfills the Kingdom.

I always find myself sort of outraged on Jesus’ behalf. I ask myself, “How could he?” How could Judas who was Jesus’ friend and disciple, betray everything that Jesus is about. Those of us who love Jesus in today’s age, WISH we could have had the chance to walk and to talk with Jesus as Judas did. How could he squander that opportunity?

And then I remember something Peter Wilson wrote:

Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…

I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.

However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.

And I realize that far too often I have stood in Judas’ shoes. Denying Jesus, betraying him, turning away from his mission and ministry in favor of my own desires.

I am humbled by this realization. And once again amazed that the power of Christ’s forgiveness is wider, deeper and more persistent than my sin.


On the Tuesday of Holy Week – the final week of Jesus’ life on Earth – Jesus was feisty. He cursed a fig tree because it didn’t bear fruit, he tussled (verbally) with the priests and teachers of the law, he prophesied about the destruction of the temple.

Some of the toughest words of Jesus are spoken on this day, as the cross looms closer and closer.

Was Jesus just cranky? Was he just feeling the pressure of the ordeal he would face at the end of the week? Was he just sick of the people who didn’t listen and didn’t understand?

I think Jesus was passionate. I think he knew his time was short, and his message was incredibly important. So his words are strong, they leave an impression. He is not just saying nice things to comfort people. He is shocking people into hearing the message of Heaven.

As always, Jesus is absolutely committed to seeing people come into a living relationship with God. He wants people to get it, and to LIVE it. And I love that about Jesus.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.”
Matthew 23:1-3 NLT



Holy Week has begun. Yesterday in churches everywhere palms were waved and people remembered how Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey. I had the privilege of preaching yesterday and as I prepared, one of the things I was aware of was how that celebration was tinged with darker themes. The people shouted and cheered, palm branches and cloaks were laid down as a pathway for Jesus, it looked quite wonderful.

But less than 7 days later, those same people would call for the execution of the one they celebrated, the one for whom they cheered. And now, on the Monday of Holy week, I find I can’t quite shake the echos of that scene. I keep turning the world “Hosanna” over in my head. It is an exclamation of excitement, but it also can mean “Save us now” or “Save us completely.” Did the people know how prophetic their cheers were? Did they understand how desperately they needed a savior?

I don’t think so. I suspect, if they knew…if they recognized their own ugliness they wouldn’t have turned on him at the end of the week. I suspect they would have kept crying “Hosanna!” instead of exchanging it for “Crucify!”

This Holy Week I want to be one who continually shouts “Hosanna!” Both because I know I need a savior and because I am so excited about what Jesus has accomplished on the cross. I need to remember my own need for him, and celebrate the reality of having that need fulfilled.

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted,

“Praise God!
Blessings on the one
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hail to the King of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said:

Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem.
Look, your King is coming,
riding on a donkey’s colt.”

His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.
John 12:12-19 NLT

A little break…

Easter is an interesting time for ordained clergy. On the one hand it is one of the highlights of our year as we remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and have extra opportunities to worship with our folks and help them draw close to God. On the other hand…it can be really tricky to balance the “doing” with the “being.” By that I mean that it is is easy to get so busy with what needs to happen (extra services mean extra responsibilities!) that you forget to actually experience the love of God and the holiness of Holy Week.

So part of my Easter practice is to take a couple of days off afterwards. I tend to get out of town (read: visit the folks!) and just spend some time resting and thinking and reading and breathing. I had intended to blog while out of town, but I kept falling asleep before I could blog at night! I guess I just needed the rest.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter. I hope the magnitude of God’s love and selflessness of Christ’s sacrifice touched your heart anew.


A Saturday night party…

For some, it would seem exceedingly strange that my church had a party tonite. It is Easter Saturday. The long dark, hopeless day that the disciples spent in hiding after Jesus’ crucifixion. Before the Resurrection, before the story began to make sense. For many it may be a time to spend in quiet contemplation.

And I can understand how that might be deeply meaningful for some. In the past few years, my Easter Saturdays have often been spent quietly. Thinking about what I will say on Sunday morning, how to share the good news in a way that is fresh and new. But I have to admit, it was kind of a beautiful thing to gather at the table with friends to smile and laugh and tease. To tell stories and eat good food together.

Because Jesus Christ is risen. And even though the official celebration comes tomorrow, the fact is that this is true every day. There will never be another Saturday like the ones the disciples spent, that first Easter. There will never be another day when we have to wonder whether Jesus was just a man…whether it was all in vain, all his preaching and miracles and talk of the Kingdom.

He is alive. He is alive. He is ALIVE!!

And in my books, that is reason for a party every day of the week.

Touching the Cross…

Today, during our Good Friday service, the congregation was invited forward to place a card at the foot of the cross. We were invited to write something for which we need forgiveness on the card, or to leave it blank (because God knows what you are thinking/feeling anyway), or simply to come and touch the cross. It was such a powerful moment. Especially since Rosemary had just preached on the fact that the crucifixion isn’t something that happened 2000 years ago, it is something that happens today. Every time we mistreat each other or turn away from God.

After the service, a comment was made on my Facebook that we ‘truly touched the cross.’ I loved that. It was how I felt, too. That in this act of coming forward, of offering our cards (whether we’d written something on them or not), of laying a hand on the black wooden cross that stood beside the communion table, we’d drawn close to the cross of Christ.

Personally, what I found there, was beautiful. It was a moment of sadness, and yet joy. Of loneliness, and yet community. Of understanding the shame of my sin, and yet finding forgiveness and acceptance in Christ.


It all begins tomorrow…

Tomorrow we begin the run up to Easter. This year, we at St. A’s are starting with a Christian Seder. It is a new venture for us and my prayer is that it will shake us out of our routine an move us towards seeing new insights and significance in the way the Passover and Communion echo each other. The way that the Old Testament and the New Testament work together. The way that the Old Covenant dovetails into the New Covenant in Christ.

In many ways the next few days will be packed full of activities and theological significance. I have already been touched at the way that God has provided some beautiful preludes to my celebration of Holy Week. In Rosemary’s Bible Study we watched a part of the film 12 Ordinary Men which was the basis for my post that evening. Tonite, in our Wednesday night program, we discussed the significance of the Resurrection. And while I hesitate to write about that before Holy Week has truly begun, I was touched by the sharing that my group did.

God is often like a composer…He knows just when to draw in this instrument or that instrument to highlight a certain theme or to underscore a certain harmony. And I guess tonite I just want to say a quiet thank you for the way he has done that in my life already this week.