Our kids love the New Canaan Nature Center. At the Nature Center we enjoyed watching seeing the trees collect the sap this year and went to a demonstration on how maple syrup is made by boiling it over a wood fire. A few weekends ago the last of the sap was harvested, and the Nature Center hosted a pancake breakfast featuring the maple syrup straight from the trees in the forest. By then the anticipation had grown. The next Saturday I stood in line with the kids; only minutes away from succulent pancakes and sweet, sweet maple syrup.
Then there was an announcement that the griddle in the kitchen had broken, leaving us with a choice to make. We could either wait another half hour until a replacement was retrieved and new pancakes were cooked, or go somewhere else. We were really hungry. I made the decision that we could go out for breakfast anywhere else and get our food faster than if we continued to stay in line. Disappointed we headed back up the hill to the car. My son was on board with this plan; my daughter, not so much.
A meltdown ensued. All she wanted was pancakes and the maple syrup she waited so long to enjoy. I tried to explain the situation to her as best as I could and that sometimes we have to “roll with it” (she must have missed that sermon). No, she wanted pancakes with maple syrup. I tried to suggest various restaurants in town we could go to as a replacement, but to no avail. No, she wanted pancakes with maple syrup from the Nature Center and nothing I was going to say or do was going to change her determination.
(To make another long story short, she spent time in her room while her mother waited patiently downstairs and her brother and I went out to grab something else.)
When was the last time you felt that passionately about something?
When was the last time you let all emotions soar, all your intentions known,
and made sure everyone else around could articulate your position so clearly?
When was the last time you went for broke, put everything on the line,
and dealt with the consequences as a result?
When did you fail to listen?
When did you fail to understand?
When was making a point better than making a change?
When was it more important to be right, than be correct?
Passion without a plan can be as unfulfilling as a plan without passion. Too often we get hung up in one without the other. Too many organizations or the people in them lose one or the other and get stuck in a rut from time to time. The things that once inspired us can turn us inward and become burdensome obligations, rather than support us or help us grow as they once did.
I think that is why there is such a thing as spring cleaning.
I think that may have motivated Jesus to overturn the tables in the Temple.
I think that is why Lent can be such a meaningful time to find focus in our busy lives.
Those first followers of Jesus entered with him in Jerusalem with all kinds of expectations: The Romans would be driven out. The glory of God would be revealed. The promise of God’s kingdom would be established, and they would be part of the administration of a whole new order. Maybe there would not be maple syrup, but the land that flows with milk and honey would gush forth once again. Suddenly it seemed like everything fell apart. They turned on each other. They turned away from him. They turned to their fears and were overwhelmed by their doubts.
There would be no pancakes. No syrup. No breakfast. All that remained was a long walk back up the hill and time to sit and think about it in their room.
But that was not the passion nor was it the plan.
Jesus came not for an earthly kingdom but for the kingdom of God.
He came not to kick the enemies out, but to bring all people together and be reconciled. He came not to establish power and might, but to show God’s love through service and sacrifice, even in the pain, and humiliation and death of the cross.
That was the plan. That was the passion.
No sugar coating it, or sugaring the maple trees.
There was emotion. There was the unfolding of his intentions. There was a clear and direct path chosen that went for broke for you and me and all humanity. His first friends didn’t listen. They failed to understand. They tried to make a point, and ended up in hiding.
That is, until…
Easter is coming soon. The surprise when all was lost. The passion and the plan revealed.
Are we listening for it? Seeking to understand it? Trying to make a point?
Or open to the possibility, that God’s passion and plan for us is far greater than maple syrup?
Peace to you as Holy Week approaches,
PS – Our daughter did not have pancakes that day,
but while we were gone, mom made waffles.
“When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’
The crowds were saying,
‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee”
Reading Plan for Holy Week:
Sunday: Matthew 21:1-11
Monday: John 12:1-11
Tuesday: John 12:20-36
Wednesday: John 13:21-32
Thursday: Matthew 26:20-46
Friday: John 18-19
Saturday: Matthew 27:57-66
Sunday: Matthew 28:1-10