Sunday, April 13, 2014

Why Holy Week?

Today is Palm/Passion Sunday. It is called Palm/Passion Sunday because its begins with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and ends with the story of his crucifixion and death.  The liturgy begins with "Alleluia, Hosanna in the Highest!" and ends with "Crucify Him." During this week we walk with Jesus during the last week of his life on earth. It is a difficult week, to say the least, because we are asked to walk the way of the cross, to share in the suffering, betrayal, humiliation, pain, and ultimate death of Jesus.

My observation would be, however, for the majority of Christians this week is not the focal point of our story but rather just another week in the year. I continue to wonder why this week has lost its significance in our life.

Do we ignore Holy Week
because we know the end of the story and in that way can avoid the pain of the cross?
because we don't have time?
because our culture makes no time for it?
because we refuse to acknowledge Jesus' pain?
because we don't have to -- the story will end the same way whether we do or not?
because we have enough pain and disappointment in our lives, we don't need more?

We cannot live totally in Hosannas or totally in Crucify Him. It is not all resurrection or all crucifixion. There is not one without the other, but rather there needs to be balance. We tend to jump from Palm Sunday and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem to Easter Sunday and the resurrection. But that is not what happened to Jesus and that is not the way our lives work.

We do not live in nirvana, a life of no pain. We live somewhere in between Hosanna and Crucify Him. It seems to me that if we don't come to grips and reality with what Jesus went through then we will spend our lives giving ourselves credit for all of the triumphal happenings in our lives and blaming God every time we suffer, or are betrayed, or humiliated, or feel pain.

By living this week in the way of the cross we can begin to understand how God does not abandon us in times of trouble,  God does not cause things to happen or stop things from happening but rather how God is present with us in our lives every minute of every day whatever is going on.

By living this week in the way of the cross in trust and hope, can we magnify the experience of God's presence in our lives? There is no risk for us as there was for the disciples. We have the answer, we know Easter will come, we have little to lose and much to gain!

Today's Reading: John 16

16 “I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father or me. But I have said these things to you so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them.
The Work of the Spirit
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Sorrow Will Turn into Joy
16 “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying to us, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They said, “What does he mean by this ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’? 20 Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. 22 So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
Peace for the Disciples
25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26 On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

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