My goodness. It’s almost Easter.

If I don’t pause and consider the coming of a special day, I tend to feel like I’m missing out a bit. What if you just woke up and someone told you it was your birthday? Sure, it might be a nice surprise, but I’d be sorry I didn’t get to look forward to it a bit.

And Holy Week offers such wonderful opportunity for anticipation. It’s like a well-crafted story. It opens on Palm Sunday with the hero riding into town as the people cry out Hosannah and pave the way with branches. Here comes the king!

Then we have several days of Jesus in Jerusalem, teaching, healing, seeming to take his rightful place in the hearts and minds of the people. Except . . . the Sadducees and Pharisees are grumbling. Shift to a private meal between Jesus and his disciples. A special time that seems perfect until it’s marred by the promise that one of them will betray Jesus. It’s Maundy Thursday.

And then a dramatic scene. What is this cup Jesus so fervently hopes he won’t have to drink? Why is he so resigned to do it if he must? Before we know the answer guards appear, led by the betrayer Judas. Jesus has been taken.

It’s Good Friday now, our hero is being tried and beaten. There’s little evidence against him and yet he’s found guilty. The sentence is death. He’s crucified–there’s simply no way this story can be redeemed. The king is dead. Except. Didn’t our hero say that he would be killed? And didn’t he hint at a return? Could there be a way out of this mess?

It’s Sunday morning. Easter. And the plot takes the most amazing twist. Jesus is alive. The anticipation peaks and gives way to relief, to joy, to abiding peace. A day well worth pausing to look forward to.

Sometimes anticipation is better than the actual event. Sometimes, it’s the perfect introduction to joy unspeakable. Happy Holy Week.