While we were in California this past Christmas I went to worship with my parents, at their church. This is not the church that I grew up attending, so there are very few people in the church who I know, or even recognize. On that Sunday, however, I saw someone getting out of his car with a flower arrangement. He was about my age and looked somewhat familiar. So I asked my parents if they recognized the young man; they said that they did not. He made his way through the courtyard carrying his flower arrangement much quicker than we did, so I didn’t have a chance to say anything to him.
We made our way to the elevator, because the entrance to their sanctuary is up a flight of stairs, and while we waited for the door to close the man from the parking lot entered the elevator. He had apparently delivered the flowers, because they were no longer in his hand. Getting a better look at him, I asked if his name was Brian. He said, “Yes.” I told him my name, which led to about 10 minutes of visiting and reconnecting. Brian and I graduated high school together. We were on the same Cross Country and Track Team. We were in many of the same classes and had many of the same friends.
But, unlike me, Brian had kept in touch with them over the past 29 years. I learned a lot about an old friend in those brief ten minutes. Brian graduated from the Naval Academy, which I sort of remembered. He married a classmate of ours, which I think I had heard. He and Cheryl had four kids, which was news to me. His grandmother, a member of my parents’ church, was celebrating her 95th birthday, so he had come to worship with and celebrate her. His family did not. His wife leads the children’s ministry at their church and she was “off” that Sunday, (the Sunday after Christmas) and wanted to attend their church and worship without the responsibilities of a typical Sunday. I didn’t realize that they were active in their faith and
church life. Brian and I exchanged cell phone numbers, in the hopes that we would stay in touch (we haven’t). It was quite a surprise to run into and get to know an old friend at worship at my parents’ church that Sunday.
Each year as we celebrate Easter, it can be kind of like greeting an old friend again. We come with expectations about the sunrise service, the Easter breakfast, the worship service. We know what we want served at Easter dinner, and who should be sitting around the table. We have a clear idea of what the weather should be and what we would like to be able to wear. As we come to Easter with all of our expectations, hopes and traditions, we run the risk of not recognizing our old friend, Jesus.
As Jesus entered Jerusalem, in John 12, the Greeks told Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus!” This Easter I pray that all of us would not miss the opportunity to see our old friend Jesus, so that we might get to know him in a new and life giving way.
And be sure to keep in touch!