“ARE YOU READY?” the park attendant yelled. My friend and I felt the safety bar clamp down with a loud click, followed by a clack. Then with a jerk and a loud screech, the car began to roll down the first hill, up the second, descending into quick turns, flips, then fast ups and downs. It was a 30-second exhilaration that made my heart beat fast and spiked my adrenaline. The ride was so great, I wanted to do it again. I went to stand in line and wait. It took only 35 minutes this time.
When I was in high school and went to the Six Flags for Physics day, the manager held a question-and answer-period. One of the first questions had nothing to do with the physics of the rides: why was the wait so long? The manager explained that the wait was an essential part of the ride. By the time people get on the roller coaster, they are already excited with anticipation, and the ride drives that excitement to another level.
As we work our way through the time of Lent, we are journeying toward a new life, to the promise fulfilled. As with the ride, the great anticipation leads us to a glorious new experience. Easter provides a glimpse of that glorious new experience. By Easter in most parts of the country, some early flowers are beginning to bloom, and we begin to see signs of nesting birds and new life all around us. The gloom of winter transitions to the beautiful blue skies and sounds of spring.
As we work toward Easter, we need to do so with diligence and patience. Easter is the beginning of something new. It is the most important day of the Christian year, not only because it is the prophesy fulfilled or the promise of life eternal. It marks the beginning of a journey that will take us to new places and make us feel things we would not have otherwise felt.
Isaiah prophesized that in the coming of the Lord the world would be called into something new. Thus, the world was going to begin a journey, one that would be new and glorious. He said, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.”
As we prepare, we must do so in preparation for the new journey to which Christ calls us. We must challenge ourselves and our trepidations to allow Christ to change and mold us.
I barely got on the ride that time. It was the first roller-coaster I had ever been on, and the whole time I was standing in line, I knew where the exits were. By the time the attendant screamed, “Are you ready?” I did not have much time to say yes, no, or dart. I was ready, whether I wanted to be or not. In our lives we are on a journey with Christ. Granted, there are times we don’t realize it, but it is through this journey that we prepare ourselves for what is next—the Resurrection.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen