Updated: Aug 14
Happy Easter! After a joyous celebration on Sunday, we get to continue that spirit for the next six weeks as we celebrate Eastertide, the season of resurrection. For the 40 days of Lent, we reflect and turn inward, but for the 50 days of Easter, we feast!
And on this Easter Wednesday, I’m thinking about maps. Some years ago when I lived in Philadelphia, I was traveling with a couple of church members to a UCC Association meeting. It was being held in a part of town that we didn’t know too well, so my friend who was driving did what many of us do—he plugged the address into his GPS, and let the computerized voice guide us as we drove. It was fine at first—the voice told us to “turn right in a quarter mile,” and she kept providing direction as we drove. But eventually, it became something of a joke the longer we were driving. Once we got onto one particular road, Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, was confused and kept telling us to “keep left” or “keep right” or “continue straight.” Over and over again, I can only presume because of the way the road was split into two sections, the GPS was confused about where we were. One of us would try to carry on a conversation, only to be interrupted by Siri’s insistent voice: “continue straight.” Eventually, we came to the address where Google had said the church was located, only to find that it was actually a different church. We had to turn off the GPS and use our old fashioned sense of direction to find the church, which wasn’t where it was supposed to be. We did manage to find it without too much more trouble, and on the way home, we didn’t bother plugging the GPS back in.
As great as many of these new technologies are for helping us find our way, they don’t always work perfectly. Even the old fashioned way of reading a map and plotting directions can sometimes take you places you never imagined you’d go. Maps, whether paper or electronic, are imperfect pictures of the world. Sometimes, you get lost. I’m sure we’ve all had similar experiences of faulty directions or inaccurate maps, leading us to out of the way places. And sometimes, we get detoured, even when we have the correct directions. Construction, accidents, emergencies—these can all take us away from our planned route to places we weren’t expecting to go.
Life, I think, is like that. We often find ourselves on detours, in places that we didn’t expect to be. “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans,” as the old saying goes. We may very carefully and deliberately plan out things, have a picture of exactly how we want things to go, whether a career, a relationship, a wedding, or any number of other things in life. But along the way, we find things we never thought of before, we follow paths that take us in new directions, we meet someone—and one day, discover that we could never have planned things to go the way they have if we’d tried. That’s part of the beauty, and part of the fear, of living. We can’t ever fully plan our lives. We can’t always know where life is going to take us.
And that’s what I think those first followers of Jesus must have been thinking. The maps they had so carefully constructed of the world and how it worked were thrown out the window when their teacher and friend was brutally killed and then, somehow, beyond any conceptual map they had, was alive again. It was to be the biggest detour of their lives, but one that led them into the greatest joy they could know. On this Easter Wednesday, are you ready to throw out your maps and let the risen Jesus take you by hand and lead you into the unknown? I’m not always sure I’m ready, but together, we can find the courage to trust and to go on that journey, knowing we are not alone. So, let’s get lost.