I was in a car accident last May, and at the time of impact, the street was deserted. Two minutes after the crash, a few people had wandered near the scene. Five minutes later, there were fifteen people. Twenty minutes later, trucks pulled over and people stepped out. Thirty minutes later, the friends of the man driving the motorbike I hit arrived en masse. A huge crowd had gathered, because they knew that something had happened, and they wanted to know what was going on.
This is so foreign to American culture. We schedule our political protests and fit them into our calendar. We have a day to remember AIDS, and a day to tell our mothers and fathers we love them. We live by the calendar, so when something important happens, we don't have time to stop and be a part of it. In fact, if someone came up to us today and said, "Hey, you should join in with this amazing thing that's happening at the church right now," we would probably respond by saying, "No way, I have things to do to get ready for Easter."
Imagine if the disciples, when Jesus invited them to dinner said, "We'd love to, but we have some preparations to take care of, Jesus." Or if someone asked them to go to the cross and they answered, "In a minute, I have this big project I'm working on."
This is a week when we immerse ourselves in tradition and remembrance of a very significant, world-changing event. We symbolically walk the path that Jesus took, his steps to the cross, charting his last days as a way of honoring his sacrifice and examining our own hearts. But let's not forget that the first Holy Week was not scheduled, or planned, and no one was given a time to arrive for the Palm Sunday parade. Instead, people were in the right place at the right time, were able and willing to respond to the invitations they were given. They were drawn to walk with Jesus because they recognized that something was happening, something rare. We're a bit cheated, aren't we? We've read the script. It spoils the big reveal on Easter Sunday, when what should be unexpected is instead a celebration of what we knew all along would come.
This year, let's not only carry with us the traditions of Holy Week, but the spontaneity and response that those first crowds exemplified. I think then we will truly shout with joy at the Easter tomb—when we can arrive there with those who mourn and see the miracle of our salvation demonstrated anew.