By Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg
As I write this, it is mid-March, mid-Lent, and mid-week. Ministry is busy, family is busy, and it’s not the season for vacation. Spring break coincides with Holy Week, as usual, so we are not going away. We’re in the middle of a Lenten sermon series. I’m tired, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.
In the middle of March, it feels like a march, all right. Put one foot in front of the other. No time for exalting anyone or anything. I don’t have the energy to lift anything up but a cup of coffee.
Still, as you are reading this, you have the benefit of knowing that Lent’s march, and the month of March, must give way to Easter’s April. The never-ending winter of our sin and our burnout gives way, if we will let it, to the green shoot of resurrection and the bright flowers of God’s grace.
It seems like exalting Jesus, lifting him up, is something that we do, like just another discipline or to-do list item. But really, it seems to me, Easter is something God does. God exalts the Son. Mostly on Easter, our job as humans seems to be to see the empty graveclothes and run, or to stand about confusing Jesus for the gardener.
What if Jesus is exalted, not because we exalted him, but because God exalted him? What if it was God, and not an industrious board of trustees, that rolled the stone away? Then, praise God, our Easter is not depended on the world, or the White House, getting its stuff together.
The King is exalted on high because God lifted him up out of the grave of our desperation, discouragement, disillusionment and death. Easter is not depending on us, friends. Easter is God’s gift and what the Church then offers to the world. As winter gives way to spring, Good Friday must yield to Easter’s Hallelujah Chorus.
Alleluia, Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!
By Rev. Daryl Williams
Pastor, St. Paul UMC, Oxon Hill
Being busy has become a badge of honor. We are all trying to get more done, in less time, just so that we can get even more done. We use lists to organize ourselves, apps to track our progress, and energy drinks to stay awake while we do it all.
We are so busy that we compare notes with each other in order to get tips on getting things done, but also so everyone knows that we are just as busy as they are, if not more so.
In all this busyness, we exalt our schedules, exalt our task lists, and lift productivity to higher heights just to prove that we can get it all done and it is leaving us exhausted.
We’re exhausted because productivity was never meant to be exalted. Task lists, schedules and busyness were never meant to be looked up to; they were only supposed to be tools to help us. When we exalt productivity, we forget that the only exalted thing in our lives should be God.
God is what we are to hold above us and look to as our badge of honor. It is our love of God that allows us to know that we are loved, cared for, and worthy and valuable even when we aren’t productive, on task, or busy. It is when we love God and exalt God that we begin to understand that we are not valuable because of what we do, we are valuable because of what God has done and who we are in God.
Now is the time to remember that only God is worthy of our exaltation. When we exalt God, we begin to see that our problems, our tasks, and our busyness are not what is most important in our lives. An exalted God reminds us that we are more than conquerors, more than production units, and more than our schedules, even when we don’t think we are making progress on our goals.
Finally, an exalted God reminds us that God will keep us and provide for us, even when we are exhausted from trying to do it all ourselves.
So pull down the lists, close the apps, and take the busyness of the throne and exalt God. When you lift God to God’s rightful place, everything else will fall into place.