Christmas comes with carolers aplenty, singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” There is a season of partying and reveling in the splendor and joy of a baby’s birth. A child has been born for us…a Son given to us and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The birth of babies brings us such hope at the wonder of new life and the mysteries of creation. We look ahead with joy on all the possibilities the future holds for this new precious one. No wonder people write songs about it.

As Christians, we stand now on the very cusp of the most Holy time of the year. In the waters of our baptisms we were joined, through the power of God’s Word spoken over us, to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent has been a season of preparation and examination. What are the ways that hinder our relationship with God and with others? What must we lay at the foot of the cross, trusting that in placing it before our Lord, he will take it with him to the tomb and it will be gone as surely as he is on Easter morning?

Palm Sunday is before us as Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem while being lauded as King of the Jews. This is the start of Holy Week, a time when we intentionally slow things down and day by day ponder the mysteries of Christ’s Passion, of his journey to the cross, the tomb and to resurrection life. The remembrances and celebrations of these days invite us, exhort us and compel us to enter in and find ourselves in these moments…to let the Spirit open our hearts to our own participation in these holy events. It is hard work, painful work to face the truth of our own sinfulness and mortality. But when we surrender to the cross, when we surrender to the reality of being joined with Christ in our baptism, we can face our own cross in faith and with hope – trusting that as we die with Christ so shall we be raised with Christ.

Sisters and brothers, I know that many things pull at your lives today. It will be spring break for many of you and traveling becomes easier. There will be family in town or you will go to see family. Maybe you still need to buy your Easter clothes or do the Easter shopping. Some of you will have reservations for Easter brunch. There are many things that will seem more important than stopping at the foot of the cross to hear about the night in which Jesus ate his last meal with his disciples, was arrested and turned over to the Roman authorities. Or to go to Golgotha and watch our Lord take his final breath. You may want to rush through the resurrection so you can enjoy the time outside in the good weather.

But I implore you, stop. Take the time. Be present to Jesus and to the events of these days which we remember with the utmost holiness. For in going with Jesus to the cross and to the tomb, you will also then walk with him to the resurrection, wherein you will once again find the joy and hope of new life born, of a future bright with possibilities for life and laughter and joy and love. You will be made anew to be that future and to live that future, HERE and NOW. You will know the loving embrace of a Savior who is like you and who is FOR YOU.

So come, all ye faithful, come and walk this road with Jesus. O come, all ye faithful, and live this Holy Week of life. O come, all ye faithful, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.