This week we enter, for many, the most sacred time of the Church calendar, Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday and culminating on Easter Sunday.
Palm Sunday is the day we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey as Zechariah’s prophecy foretold us about a humble king who would bring peace to the nations. Jesus, the miracle-working, demon-delivering long-awaited messiah entered the city on a donkey, unlike Pilate who entered the city on a warhorse. Jesus arrives as the crowds gathered and cried out,
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
I hope you will take time this week to read through the gospel accounts of Jesus’s last week. Pay attention to his words, his actions, his companions and his prayers. There is so much to meditate on. Think about the praises on Palm Sunday that by Friday turn to shouting calling for Jesus’s death. Throughout the week there is deep love demonstrated, compassion, betrayal, fear, suffering, death, mystery, all the drama that gets played out in our own lives over and over. This is the gospel. This is the good news, that out of suffering and death comes resurrection, new life!
I want to for a moment lean into Holy Saturday. The day of Holy Week I think we to often ignore. The day the first followers of Jesus had to be absolutely devastated. I can only imagine the questions, the despair the hopelessness. I know many of us may find ourselves in this place. What seemed to be going in certain way is now suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly) different, changed and we are not sure what comes next. It can be an extremely hard place to sit. We may feel powerless, without answers, just having to wait. Yet because we are on the other side and know that resurrection comes, I believe we can hold that hope in our current situation. Hope that in the death, in the loss, in the waiting God’s power is at work and is going to bring life. It may not look like anything we expect, but God will bring life out of death. This is the promise of Easter. Resurrection life is at work in this world now, today.
Jesus rose from the dead on the third day and according to our sacred text on that day it was the dawn of a new world, a new creation. That resurrection power is working in us and in the world all around us. God invites us to live into the present moment of each day. There is deep formation that happens when we live into all that presents itself to us in this life. The deep love, the anguishing betrayals, the suffering and the astounding delight that is all a part of our being human. Easter is a great celebration for Jesus followers. The new has come, God is in the process of renewing all things, of this we can be absolutely sure;
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
Eugene Peterson wrote a book, “Practice Resurrection.” My prayer for each of us is that we will continually respond to this invitation through everyday practices that might include all of the different ways we can love God, our neighbors and this amazing creation that we have been mandated to care for.