Maybe it is just a sign of where I am at in my life, but I am so excited about Holy Week. This has been a rough couple of weeks, and things with the refugees that I work with are very, very hard right now. The darkness seems to be pushing pretty hard right now, and I feel all shaky and powerless.
And then yesterday I remember that this is Holy Week. So I am praying, thinking, dreaming about all the things Christ did. It puts things in perspective.
When I was a kid, I loved Palm Sunday. Some of my favorite Sunday School memories revolve around that holiday: making the palm fronds out of construction paper and waving them around, marching in a circle and shouting “Hosannah!”, thinking about donkeys. I loved that people were being so nice to Jesus, falling all over themselves to welcome him into their city.
Now, it is such a confusing day for me. Thinking about how people loved Jesus until they suddenly didn’t, about how Jesus must have felt while riding on that donkey. How he knew, he knew, what was coming mere days later. Palm Sunday to me seems like one of the saddest days of the year. There it is, written down: our fickle, selfish human hearts on display for all to see. How we love Jesus until we realize how much he wants us to love others, and then we discard him. How I wave my branch for him until life doesn’t go my way and I turn to myself for answers. I am a palm sunday person: I sing Hosannah, and then I turn around and demand Christ’s death.
And oh, how he died. I don’t like to think about it all the time, but this week it is inescapable.
And I am truly seeing the beauty in it, the wonder of experiencing the palms and the cross and the resurrection together, not rushing through one to get to the other, but really experiencing the width and breadth of the story of God saving us.
“that mystery the Jews traduce, the Greeks deride, but we adore. For it is a fact that the more unbelievers pour scorn on him, so much the more does he makes his Godhead evident. Thus by what seems his utter poverty and weakness on the cross he overturns the pomp and parade of idols, and quietly and suddenly wins over the mockers and unbelievers to recognize him as God.“
–Fourth-century bishop Athanasius of Alexandria (from the reading from Common Prayer today)
And that is how he is winning over my life, slowly but surely. I love him because he first loved me, as evidenced by this week.
So will I do anything different this week? I will create a space for more prayer. I will read the stories from Holy week, and I will not shy away from the grief. I will meditate. I will listen to Keith Green. I will not buy into any Easter-related nonsense (and if you aren’t with me on this one, please read this amazing blog post by Jen Hatmaker). I will dwell on the utter poverty and weakness and be amazed that this is who I follow. And I will celebrate hard core on Sunday.
Happy Holy week, ya’ll.