As tomorrow is Palm Sunday, like Christians everywhere I’m about to begin my journey through Holy Week towards Easter.
There are so many preparations to make before setting out on a journey aren’t there? I sometimes find that I spend the first two days of a trip simply recovering from all the effort needed to get myself to my destination.
One of the most important things to think about is what we’re going to take and what we’re going to leave behind. What is going to be in our baggage? So called packing ‘experts’ who write numerous articles at the start of each holiday season tell us that we should lay out everything we think we should take and then discard fifty percent of it.
Even having done that, though, it’s not that easy to close the case is it? There’s always something which is spilling out over the side and which can’t be contained.
Why can’t our baggage be neater, tidier, and easier to manoeuvre than it is? (Especially these days, when many suitcases have four wheels and therefore should be easier to move around!)
The next pre-trip chore after the packing is to label the baggage and we’re often asked to print our own labels. Unless our suitcase is a new one, it may have some labels from previous trips still attached: dilapidated proof the journeys that have brought us to this moment.
What memories they stir up. Perhaps there are several labels to the same destination; somewhere we’ve returned to many times, somewhere familiar and much loved. Others indicate times when we’ve challenged ourselves and gone outside our comfort zones, to discover somewhere new and exciting, perhaps even life changing.
Some labels may be peeling away but we don’t want to remove them. Or not just yet anyway. We simply can’t let go of those times in our lives and the people we were then.
I need to consider prayerfully some of the personal baggage I’ll be hauling into Holy Week and the labels I’ve stuck onto those bits of my life and, indeed on myself. Some of these things have definitely seen better days. That baggage is well worn and scuffed and I’m dragging it behind me on wheels which are definitely wobbly and frequently pull me in the wrong direction.
There’s so much to bring out into the open so that God to blow away the cobwebs and those unnecessary bits of dust and debris I’ve picked up over the past year, often without realising it.
It doesn’t matter to Him that I’ve tried to stuff too much into my baggage and that there are lots of bits which are now spilling out of the sides. I don’t need to bounce up and down trying to fit them into a life which often seems full to capacity.
How much of what I’ve accumulated do I really need now? If I lay out my life, which are those things I can leave behind? God, the ultimate ‘packing expert’ will make sure that, going forward, I’m only going to keep the essentials, those things which make up the real me, the person he created me to be.
I have confidence that Jesus will walk alongside me as I walk alongside Him through the events of Holy Week, continually giving me new insights.
Most importantly, he’ll make sure that there’s a space, of exactly the right shape and size, at the foot of His cross on Good Friday where I can finally leave all of the things which He’s told me and shown me that I shouldn’t be carrying anymore.
After the emotion of Good Friday, it will be such a pleasure on Easter Sunday to reclaim and pick up those things which He wants me to continue to carry with me.
Yes, there will still be baggage but it will be lighter, much more manoeuvrable and, best of all, it will be perfectly packed: everything in its rightful place. Nothing will be creased and the nothing will be spilling out of the sides.
I’m looking forward to Holy Week. In so many ways it’s a sad, painful and emotional journey from Palm Sunday to Good Friday and we can feel dragged down by our suitcases full of sins, both large and small and many regrets.
But I’ll try to keep focussing on getting to the Baggage Reclaim that is Easter Sunday. Then I shall pick up a bright, shiny new suitcase.
As I unpack it, I know I’ll discover that Jesus will have put wonderful surprises in all of those tiny, oddly shaped spaces which I overlook frequently.
I hope that your journey through Easter Week will be challenging, yet exciting and fruitful and who knows, when we pick up our new baggage on Easter Sunday, perhaps inside it, as well as those things which Jesus wants us to take forwards, we’ll find a chocolate egg or two!