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Friday, March 14, 2008

To have a Happy Easter, you've got to have a Good Friday

Innocence. Guilt. Accusations. Lies. Betrayal. Suffering. Death.

These are the the major themes of the story of what Christians call Holy Week which begins this Sunday - The Sunday of The Passion, or Palm Sunday. These elements are what we must walk through in the final steps of our Journey through Lent.

It’s no wonder – no wonder at all – that many people want to avoid Holy Week like the proverbial plague.

In what theologian Paul Tillich named, “The Age of Anesthesia,” it comes as no surprise that many people avoid coming to church until Easter morning.

Who wants to hear of such things? Isn’t the ordinary stuff of our postmodern lives already too full of these things? Give us celebration! Give us joy! Give us something to feel good about!

Isn’t Christianity supposed to be about ‘good news’?

Why, yes. Yes it is.

The Good News for those who walk with Jesus during Holy Week is that in a culture that cherishes ‘rugged individualism’ we are not alone. We are assured that God knows the intimate details of our human predicament.

God suffered with us in that long ago time, in that ancient city, on that lonely hill. A part of God dies every time innocence is lost, guilt is unmerited, accusations are false, lies are told, betrayal is perpetrated, and humans suffer unjustly.

The fullness of the celebration of Easter cannot be known unless you are humbled by the simple act of having your feet washed on Maundy Thursday, or you participate in the profoundly moving act of hammering your burdens and sins onto the Old Rugged Cross on Good Friday.

The Great Vigil of Easter prepares us like nothing else to move through the darkness of our past, to open our eyes to the reality of our present, and into the full embrace of the Light of Hope for our future.

The old, old Spiritual tells us “You’ve got to walk that lonesome valley. You’ve got to walk it by yourself. Nobody else can walk it for you. You’ve got to walk it by yourself.”

Please. Do yourself a favor. Check out the schedule of Holy Week and Easter Services at a church near you.

Make plans now to attend services in Holy Week. Don't leave it until the last minute.

Go. Walk that lonesome valley.

At the end of the journey, you will discover that you were never alone. God was walking there, right beside you.

That will make your celebration even more glorious than the glory of all the lilies at the altar on Easter morn.

While others see the empty tomb, you will see the glory of the Risen Lord.

It is promised.


June Butler said...

The experience of the whole of Holy Week seems vital to me. There is no way to the Resurrection except through the Cross. Perhaps, I'm nuts, but I look forward to Holy Week. It would seem quite strange to me to appear at church on Easter Sunday without having participated in the liturgies of the preceding days. OCICBW.

Fran said...

Ah yes- what wise words.

A long time ago, when I struggled with my return to church, when I was so broken and confused (which I remain - just broken differently I suppose!) a wise person shared with me that you can't really have a resurrection without a crucifixion.

That was the dawn of when I began to see through new eyes. This was some small element of the metanoia that I continue to long for (and that I have written about extensively this Lent at my church blog.

That and learning that what begins on Thursday evening is one long, continuous prayer that concludes as we leave the vigil, in the name of the the risen Christ.