When Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke to the class of 1993 back in my seminary days, he shared with us an old African proverb which has stuck with me through everything the last two decade threw before me:
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
Pretty simple. Pretty deep, too. We live in a world that tells us that fast we go the better off we will be. And if that isn’t enough to motivate us, the world also reminds us that it will judge us on how much we can get done in how little time. The promise of judgment is true. The promise of better is a lie.
The faster we go, the more alone we become. In our haste and our multitasking, we become captives of all that is urgent and render ourselves deaf and blind to the few things that are truly important, and we isolate ourselves not just from each other but from God. We come to the end of our days tired, lonely, and full of regrets, because while we may have made ourselves go fast, we have kept ourselves from getting anywhere that matters with anyone who cares.
Holy Week is not a race. It’s not a sprint and it’s not a marathon. It’s not at test of speed or endurance. Easter is NOT the finish line, but the beginning of a journey of a lifetime, a journey that can only be accomplished in the company of Christ and of the community of people who form the body of Christ. It is not about re-enacting the suffering and death of Jesus but walking with Jesus through his last week among us as a simple rabbi in order to prepare ourselves to journey with him into his resurrection, and ultimately to our own.
You are not the only lonely person out there in your world. Not the only person who has been seduced by the secondhand of the stopwatch. There are a lot of others out there that need to walk with Christ and experience Christ’s patient, deep, and transforming love just as much as you do.
We can put up all the signs, all the banners, all the advertisements in the world. And we should. They are necessary, just insufficient. But in the end, ads can’t truly invite people into community. Only people can do that. It doesn’t matter how you invite them – a phone call or an over-the-fence conversation, a simple note or a forwarded Facebook invite – but it matters that you do.
People won’t follow an advertisement to church, but they will follow you, if you ask them to.