After Jesus’ epitaph, “They crucified him,” Mark pulls back in Mark15:24-28. He starts to describe the scene. The soldiers are neither longer mocking nor actively carrying out their duty. They are casting lots to divide Jesus’ clothes. They are passing time. Mark notes that Jesus is being crucified between two robbers, two common thieves. The one interesting thing he notes is the plague on the cross, “The King of the Jews.”
This year, we too are passing time as we wait for Good Friday and the crucifixion. For many there will only be the waving of the palms of their hands and not palm branches because of the pandemic this Sunday. Easter celebrations will probably be curtailed. No sunrise pancake breakfast by the youth. Many churches will not celebrate Maundy Thursday or Good Friday together but possibly by zoom meetings or streaming. There is a certain flatness, a feeling of just passing time.
How do we “pass time”? Some put on DVDs. Visiting friends and family is not as automatic now. Even shopping is not whipped into a furry yet. The heaviness of the Passion story matches some of the heaviness in the air. We are hoping that the vaccine will do the trick and yet some are talking of a third wave. Some have received stimulus checks and others will claim rebates on their income tax. And yet again April 15 is postponed.
In the midst of all the serious thinking, though, I can look outside. The baby ibises are walking through the yard and their original brown plumage is beginning to turn white. The weather is warming up and some flowers are coloring the landscape here in Florida. The grass was even mowed today. Water skiers are beginning to be on the lake and crews of rowers are warming up. Bicyclers stream by, exercising their muscles. Life goes on.
Today is day 30 of the 40 days of Lent and we are ¾ of the way through Lent. How will you pass the remaining time? Instead of casting lots to win a prize like the soldiers, why not think of a gift you could give someone? It need not cost money. Who might appreciate a surprise hug or a phone call? Homemade “thinking of you” cards are usually appreciated. Smiles are always a good bet. May we pass time not wanting to win a “used garment” but giving a surprise. We know that “The King of the Jews” while written by Pilate as mocking, was true and we know that King lives and cares about all the things that weigh us down! God is not passing time but active in our world today. Let us “pass time” encouraging others!