SCRIPTURES THIS WEEK: Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; John 12:12-16; Mark 11:1-11
THEME THIS WEEK: Your king is coming
Patience is certainly not my forte. Last spring, while living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during my semester abroad through the college’s Study-Service Term, I learned that I am not alone. Each morning, my commute to school began with a short ride on the daladala (minibus) to get to the ferry dock. Dar es Salaam is a coastal city, and I needed to cross an inlet of the Indian Ocean to reach downtown. At 6:15 a.m., the ferry dock is a chaotic mess of bicycles weaving through crowds of people running with school books or baskets of food on their heads. Everyone is desperate to catch the next ferry over, and nobody wants to wait – I didn’t, either.
When I finally made it through the throngs to the ticket booth, I paid my five shillings and steeled myself for the fight. Clutching my ticket and backpack close, I pushed my way through the tangle of shoving elbows into the enclosed pavilion where ferry passengers were corralled to wait. Being inside of this pavilion was one of my most stressful cross-cultural experiences; I will never quite understand the aggressive panic of the people inside, who have already managed to outrun their neighbors, pay for a ticket and find a spot to wait. Once inside the pavilion you were guaranteed a spot on the ferry, so why the merciless push and shove? Everyone wants to be the first out of the pavilion when the gate opens, presumably so that they can sprint to the front of the ferry and therefore be the first to disembark on the other side. Early on in the game, I figured out that there was no reason to join the fight to the front, but that didn’t make me immune to being thrown from side to side, pushed down by sweaty, muscular women carrying large loads, and even lifted from my feet and carried by the crowd. Still, the desperation is contagious; I didn’t want to be last, either. The wild, irrational fear of being left behind built every minute, until the gates opened and there was one final surge of aggression before everyone proceeded to walk calmly and reasonably out of the pavilion and up the ramp onto the ferry. Everyone made it on board, every time. Including me.
This frantic impatience seems silly – and it was. This week, as we contemplate the theme “Your King is coming,” I am reminded of the promise of Easter Sunday. The season of Lent is one of waiting, and our stamina is tested until the day of resurrection. Just like the chaos of the ferry pavilion in the morning, our energy is focused on the wait. But why the desperate impatience? At Easter, we are ensured the reward of the arrival of Christ, who relieves and renews our anxious hearts. This is a promise we can count on, every time. Patience and peace to all as we enjoy the wait in anticipation of the coming King.