“It only makes sense if you watch from the beginning”

Have you ever walked into a movie part way through?  You have no idea who the characters are, how they connect, who’s chasing after whom, or why.  All you do is annoy people by asking questions that are obvious to any who had watched the movie from the beginning.  You have missed all the character development, the background story, and the foreshadowing.  But you sit down anyway and watch the rest of the movie. At the end of the movie you decide it was a bit of a waste of time because it did not seem to hold together, and there were too many seemingly random events that just happened to coincide.  In doing this, we blame the film for our lack of understanding and entertainment.

The story of Easter plays like an epic film.  It begins back before the foundations of the earth but starts in earnest with the birth of Jesus.  Main characters are introduced and beautifully developed.  We learn who the antagonists are and why they don’t like Jesus.  The story is full of wonders, miracles and wonderful stories intertwined within the main story. As the narrative unfolds, we realize that this is not a simple story.  There are many twists and turns and several glances with death.  The plot takes an unexpected and somewhat nasty turn in the last third of the story.  Everything slows down and, instead of covering weeks and months at a time, the narrator focuses our attention on what would be the final few days of Jesus’ life. The story moves from wonder and adventure to one of tragedy and sorrow.  Because we are so familiar with the Easter story, we tend to miss the nuances and glance over the subtleties of the text.  We know how the story ends so we avoid getting caught up in the catastrophe which unfolds.

As we begin the season of Lent, we were invited “in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting, and self-denial, and by reading and meditation upon God's holy Word”. 1

As we do this, and particularly in endeavouring to read the story with ‘a fresh pair of eyes,’ we may begin to see the ‘bigger picture’ of the Good News of the Easter narrative.  It is only when we have witnessed the story from the beginning that we can truly appreciate and comprehend the beauty of its conclusion.  Easter only makes sense in light of what has gone before. 

If we watch the end of the story in isolation – the Easter weekend, we may conclude it was a bit of a waste of time because we have not seen the story in its entirety.  But if we watch and experience the story from the beginning, we become aware of the wonder of the Easter story, the beauty of the cross, and the glory of the empty tomb.

I wish you a meaningful and holy journey through the season of Lent.

God bless.

Rev Dave

1 …. Extract from The Book of Common Prayer