Easter expectations: not a once-a-year event

Pastor's Column - Table of Good


We all have expectations, don’t we? In the Christian calendar, as you read this article, we are in the midst of Holy Week.

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, when we remember that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The Israelites welcomed him with cries of “Hosanna!”, which means “Save us!”, because they remembered the prophesies of Zechariah hundreds of years before.

These prophecies foretold that the Messiah, or Savior, would come to save them, and he would come riding on a donkey colt. So they were very excited to welcome him, and they had expectations of who he was and what he would do for them.

We all have expectations. The expectations of the Israelites were that Jesus had come as a warrior king. In reality, he came as a peacemaker to teach them about love and serving each other. He did not come seeking acclaim. He came humbly, as a servant.

On Thursday, the Christian community will observe Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word meaning “command.”

At His last meal with His disciples, Jesus gave them the new commandment to “love one another as I have loved you.”

He demonstrated to them the true sense of servitude when he knelt before each one and washed their feet as a servant would, and he told them to go out and serve others. They didn’t really understand because they had different expectations.

Friday of this week is Good Friday. It’s a good time to remember that the same crowd who welcomed Jesus with cries of “Hosanna!” just a few days before were now crying out “Crucify him!”

Why? Because he did not meet their expectations. He told them to go out and serve – to act – rather than to have someone else change their situation and save them.

And then we come to the Easter Sunday celebration. Believers and non-believers are familiar with Easter. For many, it means the once-a-year visit to church, a new outfit, an Easter egg hunt, and family gatherings. Maybe a ham dinner.

But to Christians who have walked the week-long journey with Christ, it means far more. It means that Jesus conquered death and sacrificed himself on the cross for us so that we could have eternal life.

We so often skip from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, and we forget the events in between. But we need to remember. We need to remember that life isn’t one celebration after another; life is very hard and painful sometimes. But we do not journey alone.

It’s all about expectations, and we need to know that we cannot see the big picture. Only our Creator knows His plan for us.

So this Easter, remember that this celebration is not a once-a-year event. Experience the joy and the reality of life every day. And love and serve one another.

Happy Easter!

Mary Timmermann is pastor of rural West Liberty's Cedar Valley Church and the Nichol's United Methodist Church. She can be contacted through either church.