One of my favorite movies growing up as a kid was the film by Mel Brooks, Spaceballs. I realized after going to college that I had only ever seen the “Tv-edited” version, but I still crack up at it and quote it often. One of the running jokes throughout the movie is that the Officer that is second-in-command to Dark Helmet (the Darth Vader spoof) is Colonel Sanders (not THAT Colonel Sanders) who is always “preparing.” Any command he gives, he first tells them to prepare. When they fast-forward the VCR he tells them to “prepare to fast-forward,” e.g. There is one point when Dark Helmet finally gets annoyed at all of this preparing, and says, “why are you always preparing, just GO!”
Many seasons in the church can feel like that. Many of our activities and programs can feel like we are always preparing, never going. Advent and Lent especially feel this way to me. In Lent, we are preparing for Easter through worship and fasting. We ramp up activities ahead of the day with Holy Week, all to prepare. In our impatience, we want to say, “why are we always preparing, just go!”
I think it is because we know that if we are prepared for what we can, then our experience is all the more meaningful, and we can be present in the moment in a much freer way. Before we leave our house on a typical school day I ask my girls, “do you have everything you need?” They do a quick mental check, making sure they need nothing out of the ordinary to prepare for, like if they have practice after school, or need an extra snack. Then I ask them, “and nothing that you don’t?” Because they are constantly sneaking in stuff that they will have to carry with them all day, and if they don’t need it, then it just becomes extra baggage.
This is a way I envision the season of Lent in getting prepared for the season of Easter. If we can carry the things we need; community, humility, love, and grace, and let go of the things we don’t; jealousy, grudges, fear, and resentment, then we can be lighter and freer to experience the glorious miracle of Easter in a refreshing way. I think some good questions to ask ourselves as we prepare for Holy Week, which prepares us for Easter is, “Do we have everything we need, and nothing that we don’t?”