The Pastor's Windshield for March 2024

 Sometimes the last stage of a journey is the most difficult … Several years ago, our family was traveling home after a long road trip. It was late at night and Heidi and I were both very tired. We had to make several stops to get out and stretch and to switch drivers. Eventually, I reached the point where my eyes just couldn’t stay open. Thankfully, I was able to pull off the interstate and Heidi drove for about the last 45 minutes. Home was so close, but it was a real challenge to get there that night. 

Maybe it hasn’t happened to you with a road trip, but in some other life situation. The last semester of your education may have been the hardest. You had “senioritus” and were just ready to be done. Or you were counting down the years (or even the days!) until your retirement. You were ready for that change of pace or to put the stress of your workplace behind you. Or how often have you started something (a project, a book, or maybe a diet or exercise plan), but you had trouble completing it? I’ve been there.

And it can happen with life itself – for some people, the final days of life are the hardest, due to pain or infirmity. It’s also hard to walk that journey alongside of loved ones who are suffering. You’ve probably been there, too. 

In Holy Week (which begins on Palm Sunday), we complete our journey through the yearly Lenten season. Like me, you may be ready for the brighter Easter season around the corner. But it’s important that we first complete our journey through Lent and remember these critical days in the life of our Lord and what He accomplished for us.

Jesus’ journey through the original Holy Week began on a high note – a celebratory parade as he rode into Jerusalem ahead of the Passover festival, welcomed by crowds of palm-waving Jews.

During that week, Jesus preached His final sermons in the temple courts, especially focusing on the theme of the Day of the Lord – His coming for the final judgment. Then, on Thursday evening, Jesus ate His last Passover meal with His disciples, and also left them with a meal instituting His new covenant: His body and blood in Holy Communion.

After breaking bread with the disciples, Jesus faced the hardest hours of His journey. He agonized in prayer in the garden. He was betrayed by His friend. He was tried and convicted of crimes and blasphemies He hadn’t committed. He endured a brutal flogging at the hands of Roman soldiers. Finally, He allowed Himself to be nailed onto the cross, on which He would experience a humiliating, excruciating death.

Jesus completed His arduous journey for you. He didn’t stop short when the time came to climb one last hill, a place known as “the skull” or Golgatha

Finally, in midafternoon on Good Friday, He uttered the words, “It is finished” (John 19:30), because not only was His suffering finished, but also your salvation. Jesus had completed everything necessary to redeem you from hell and eternal suffering and to win everlasting life for you.

Jesus’ journey also changes our journeys. Because of His suffering, death, and resurrection, you are now on a different journey, one filled with hope and forgiveness and grace and headed toward the life everlasting, your resurrection, and the renewal of all things. 

I look forward to completing this Lenten journey with you and then beginning a new one, filled with the hope of Easter!

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!

In lowly pomp ride on to die.

Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain.

Then take, O Christ, Thy power and reign!

Lutheran Service Book 441:5

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Kory Janneke