"The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!" As I write this, these words seem premature. They proclaim a reality for the day of resurrection, and that day dawns tomorrow.
On Good Friday, the powers of this world focused their struggle for power, privilege and position on an itinerant Jewish teacher and healer. Their fear, hatred and violence led them to conspire to crucify Jesus, Never mind that he was an innocent man. In the face of the vicious brutality that killed Jesus, two leaders of the community risked their standing to do the right thing by Jesus; they gave his body a proper burial. Matthew tells us that the temple authorities -- still fearing for their power, privilege and position -- sealed the tomb and posted a guard to see to it that Jesus stayed dead.
How is God going to respond to the violence, hatred and brutality directed at Jesus? Some of the Gospel accounts report earthquakes and the curtain of the temple being torn from top to bottom at the moment of Jesus' death. However, the earthquakes don't destroy the places where Jesus was condemned, tormented and crucified. No further damage is done to the temple. No lightening bolts strike down the religious and civil authorities responsible for the death of Jesus. There is no revenge; all that violence goes with Jesus to his grave.
The events of this past week bring to mind the old saying that we live in a "Good Friday world." Violent and ugly struggles for power, privilege and place continue. In the face of the brutality that continues and the brutality done to Jesus, God offers a different response. Instead of yet more violence, there is redemption! As a new day dawns, God's answer is not more death, but new life! God raises Jesus from the dead. That sealed tomb cannot contain his new risen life. And so, on the Day of Resurrection we will be inspired to say with his first disciples: " Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!"
But this Risen Life isn't just for Jesus. He invites us all to the transformation of his Risen Life. Jesus isn't a solitary Easter person. The rest of that old saying about our Good Friday world is about our identity as "Easter people" -- people of compassion, hope and redemption, people of the Risen Life.
All sorts of preparations are underway for our Easter celebrations. Our Altar Guild is busily bringing out our best and finest; flowers of spring, provided by your memorial and thanksgiving gifts, express our hopes for new life. Musicians are preparing for their celebrations of new life at both our 8 and 10a.m. services. (However, the Youth String Ensemble will appear at just the 10a.m. service.) Perhaps you are preparing a treat to share at our festive potluck coffee hour? Or finding a flower with which to decorate the cross by the Children's Altar? Or locating a basket for the Children's Easter Egg Hunt that will follow the 10a.m. service?
Whatever your preparations may be, I look forward to sharing in tomorrow's Alleluias with you!
In faith and hope,
Holy Week actually began on Palm Sunday with the Blessing of the Palms, as we recalled Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Our worship began on a high note with a procession led by nine Acolytes. They joined the Choir, Chalice Bearers and me, in being the villains (i.e. council of chief priests and elders, and their soldiers) who denounce Jesus in the Passion Story. A week that began with joy and Jesus proclamation that he came in Peace (that's what riding a donkey meant), ended in turmoil, violence and death.
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, we walk with Jesus as the conspiracy to kill him gathers momentum.
p.s. As an example of one saint's faithful response to the evil of his own day, have a look at the entries in LentMadness.org for Dietrich Bonhoeffer. You can find them here, here and here. He appears to be on his way to receiving the LentMadness "Golden Halo;" of course, he's already got the real thing.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!