Holy Week Mixed Feelings

I have come to dislike this time of year.
And I feel guilty about it.
So, as I have learned to do with God’s guidance,
I went looking for the reason so I can resolve this love/hate/guilt mix of feelings.

I know I quietly have opted out of attending the big productions of Easter plays
Large churches and theaters love to put on this time of year:
The special effects, the echoing sound of the hammer hitting the nails,
The agony so effectively portrayed became too much for me.

I realize in our desensitized society we feel we have to get people’s attention.
We compete with some pretty fantastically well done productions.
And we’re afraid our simple story of death and resurrection
Will get lost in the hubbub of loud, flashing messages.

But all this concentration of the crucifixion alone just made me cringe.
Have we forgotten the end of the story? I asked.
Resurrection doesn’t need that big of a build-up, I raged.
Don’t you know the beginning of a story when you see one? My inner writer demanded.

And this year I got a new perspective.
The people who experienced the birth a death and resurrection of Christ
Didn’t ever know the end of the story.
My pastor says we must experience Christ’s journey through that week to appreciate Easter.

And my devotional talks about sitting down to eat lunch with Lazarus after Christ raised him:
“So,” says a guest, “How was your week?”
Lazarus says, “I was quiet ill, I died. Had a funeral, and several days later Christ raised me.
How was your Week?” (Disciplines 2013)

I shook my head and started again.
Christ would say, “I taught, did some miracles so people could believe,
I was betrayed by a follower, I was arrested while I was trying to pray,
Many of my own people turned against me, I was tried.

Because people were afraid of my message from my Father,
They convicted me of treason,
A great deal of pain was inflected upon my body, and my best friend denied he knew me.
I was crucified.

But my Father was faithful!
He used his great power and restored life to me
So everyone could believe
And come to know my Father, God, as I know him.

“So, how was your week?”
“Well,” I stutter, “I went to Services Palm Sunday, have daily read scripture and prayed,
Had a flood because of a faulty hook up in my washer,
Am planning to do my little volunteer thing, and go to Maundy Thursday Service,
And I’m planning to attend the Sunrise service.”

And I realize I didn’t acknowledge Christ’s grief, his hurt,
His humanity, his pain, betrayal and forsakenness.
Some of these are things I understand as a human – with daily pain –
As a pastor’s wife, a woman unable to have a child, musician, and writer.

And I guess I just don’t want to acknowledge them again and again.
I know all the bad parts. I read Christ’s experiences in the scripture.
But I want to skip straight to the glorious end of the story,
And for a writer, that’s not even good story telling.

So, what do I do now?
I will read, search, and dwell on the reality of Christ’s week.
I seek a deeper understanding of contrast between
The awfulness of pain, betrayal and crucifixion and the glorious resurrection.

And I can’t be afraid to acknowledge to pain.
Not give into it, not let it control everything,
Not let it ruin emotional on it ruin the end of the story.
But not skip over the bad parts.

And know things don’t end there.
The hope of Easter is always present.
That’s why we don’t despair.
But unless we know the anguish of the week, Easter is just an extraordinary event.

I need to understand that even Easter is not the end of the story.
It’s the middle, followed by:
Teaching, growing, miracles, assurance,
The founding of the church, believers spreading all over the world…

And the same power and presence that raised Jesus to life
Comes to us today, in our desensitized, flashy, refusing to acknowledge our need for God culture,
With the same hope-infusing, life-giving power Christ experienced at the end of his week.
I know the story. I acknowledge it all. Now, God, I am here. Change me and make it real to me.

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3 responses

  1. I think the prolonged crucifixion scenes are occasionally justified if adequate time is spent portraying the glory of Christ’s resurrection, rather than having him roll away a paper-mache biscuit of a rock so everyone can clap and go home.

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    1. Nick, good point. I think that may be part of my reaction. The resurrection is as “sensational” as the death. We just get stuck there. Thanks for your wisdom.

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  2. thanks Jo for your candid musings about Easter. I am so glad we know the end of the story, not only that first Easter but the end of the story yet to come. He is Risen and He is coming again. In the meantime we deal with the routine, now, ever present life only doing it a day at a time by His wonderful grace.

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