"He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples." - Matthew 28:6-8
I'll admit, I've always had a complicated relationship with running. I've never been very good at it, or very fast. But I've always admired people who run, particularly the ones who can run long distances. I can't imagine running a marathon, and I can't imagine covering 26.2 miles, but if someone chooses to do that, more power to them. It takes discipline and strength and endurance. It takes a commitment that is worthy of recognition.
About a year ago I went to a service at Old South Church in Boston which sits just feet away from the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Old South's pastor, the Rev. Nancy Taylor, started the service that night by saying this: "The Christian life is like a marathon."
And she's right. The Christian life isn't a sprint. It's not something done quickly by going to church every Sunday morning, or even by observing Lent for forty days. Instead, the Christian life is a long journey, full of challenge, full of opportunities to quit. There are times when you wonder "is this worth it"?
There are times when you can't remember why you signed up in the first place. And there are times when you doubt you can go on.
But there are also the times when you decide that as hard as it is, you will keep running. And somewhere out there on the course, filled with fear, but anticipating joy, you may just find Christ there too.
Dear God, help us to keep running this marathon. Ready. Set. Go… Amen.
Emily C. Heath is Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire.