Discipleship: The Challenge of Staying Focused

By Sharron R. Blezard, March 17, 2008

“Remain here and stay awake with me.”

–Matthew 26:38b

I hurried into the third meeting of the day 25 minutes behind schedule. Being late really bothers me, especially since this was an important meeting in the grand scope of things. But then, so were the two earlier meetings, and so was walking the dogs in between, and so were the two parish-related errands run on the way into town. The realization that there was simply more to be done in this day than there were hours in which to do it settled like a lead weight in my mind.

“We’ve decided to meet again next Wednesday,” said the chairperson. “We thought since you don’t have worship that night, you’d have time to meet in the afternoon. That way we can be finished by Easter and enjoy time with our families.”

I wondered if feelings of annoyance and dismay were showing on my face. It’s Holy Week, I thought to myself. What about walking with Jesus during this time? What about prayer and preparation? Doesn’t that matter? No we weren’t having worship or confirmation class on Wednesday night, but there would be Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and two services on Easter Day.

Meetings were already scheduled for Monday and Tuesday nights, and I still had much to do in preparation for the week’s worship. Add to all of this the usual parenting and household needs, and I was starting to feel as scattered and smothered as an order of Waffle House hashbrowns. Yes, the prospect of Holy Week began to seem anything but holy!

Perhaps the first disciples were in much the same metaphorical boat. They didn’t have bulging calendars filled with copious notes, and they weren’t wearing the tires off automobiles, but they were busy and distracted and full of expectation and worry during Jesus’ last week on this earth.

Heading back to Jerusalem was disconcerting enough. It was dangerous territory for Jesus; the religious authorities were looking for ways to get rid of him, and surely during this important feast things would come to a head. Imagine the expectations, thoughts, and anxieties that might have been swirling through their minds. Then there was that strange, prophecy-fulfilling entry into Jerusalem and all the detailed preparations for the Passover meal.

At the meal itself, Jesus was behaving strangely, insisting on washing their feet himself and saying that one of them would betray him. How could they possibly focus and worship during this time? Now in the garden, their beloved rabbi asks them to remain and stay awake with him as he prays.

The effects of full bellies, wine, and exhaustion override their intentions, and Jesus finds them asleep, unable to fulfill his request. Not once, but three times they fail to stay awake, to stay focused on the task at hand, and when Jesus rouses them the third time they are plunged into a spiral of actions that would change not only life as they knew it, but also the fate of all creation.

As we journey through Holy Week, my prayer is that no matter how busy and distracting life seems, we will make time to remain with Jesus and be watching for the movement of God’s Spirit among us. Discipleship involves being good stewards of our talents, our resources AND our time—of being truly present and aware—and Holy Week is a good time to focus on exactly what this means. Our Easter challenge, I believe, is continue to walk with Jesus each and every precious day of our lives.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Rev. Sharron Lucas, all rights reserved. Used by permission.

About the Author

The Rev. Sharron Riessinger Blezard is an ELCA pastor currently rostered in the Lower Susquehanna Synod. She came to ordained ministry after teaching secondary and college English, working in non-profit management and public relations, and moonlighting as a freelance writer. See more posts by .

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