Greetings Messenger readers! I’m Pastor Jess Olson, the relatively new pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Onamia. I began my service here in September and moved to Onamia full time in November. As I get to know my way around these woods and waters, I have been struck by the stark winter beauty of the land and the relative quiet of life here. I love it. And as spring begins her annual stutter start, I look forward to the greening of these trails around us and meeting many more of my neighbors.

I greet you at a time when Holy Week is upon us Christians. This is the week that we walk with Jesus through the Last Supper with his disciples on Holy Thursday, his crucifixion on Good Friday, and then celebrate his miraculous and life-giving resurrection on Easter morning.

Christians around the world spend 40 days of Lent reflecting in preparation for this Holy Week and the glorious resurrection. In this week, we have been reminding ourselves about the God that came to live among us as a true human being. We have been reminding ourselves of a God who loved us enough to preach and teach love and forgiveness, mercy and grace – even in the face of imminent death. Reminding ourselves that Jesus didn’t just come once 2,000 years ago, but our God reaches down and embraces us again and again and again. Reminding ourselves that we are claimed as God’s beloved children again and again and again. As Christians, these reminders give us hope. And in hope, we know we are never alone, even in our bleakest hour. In hope, we know we are loved beyond measure. And in Easter, we get to celebrate this hope abundantly.

This year the world has been begging for hope for over 52 weeks. From the moment we began to count the deaths from this pandemic and began to learn what it meant to “lockdown” and “quarantine,” we have been awaiting new life. It’s been a year. And it appears that we may be seeing the emerging of a life post pandemic. Let us see hope and resurrection as we begin to see faces, or at least the eyes, of those we haven’t seen in months. Let us see hope in the flowers and trees budding in the coming weeks; let us see hope in those of us who have lived to see another morning.

And I don’t know about you, but this year, I feel so ready for Easter.

Jess Olson is the pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Onamia.

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