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Wrestling with Holy Week

April 17, 2014

DSC_2670Over the past four months, I’ve realized something about myself.

Jesus makes me uncomfortable.

I love the Bible, as I’ve written many, many times.  I love praying the Psalms, I am convicted and reassured by the prophets, and I approach the laws of the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) with curiosity.  I know I am a beloved child of God  and that I was created to worship God, love God, and love others.

Holy Week though?  Those last chapters of the books of the Gospels?  They make me unsure.

Ann Voskamp wrote recently about falling in love with Jesus over and over again.  In her post, she referenced a friend who said she didn’t know if she ever fell in love with  Jesus in the first place.

Was she talking about me?

I didn’t have a dramatic conversion experience.  Falling in love with Jesus seemed as likely as falling in love with my mom and dad.  I grew up knowing I was loved by God.  I knew I was a sinner.  I know I need God’s forgiveness and grace on a daily basis.  I fail to love God with my whole heart.  I fail to love my neighbor as myself.  I need forgiveness for the things I have done and those things I have left undone.  I know God forgives me and there is nothing that can separate me from the love of God.  Nothing. However, I wouldn’t describe my love for Jesus as falling in love over and over.  I love Jesus and God like I love my parents.  I always have.  I always will and it’s not defined my warm, fuzzy feelings and giddiness.

Jesus though?  What of the crucifixion?  What of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead?  What does Holy Week mean?

Can I admit these things?

Earlier in the year, we talked about salvation and the cross in Sunday School class.   Salvation fits into my love of the Bible and God.  Salvation looks like peace in the midst of the storm with images from the Psalms immediately coming to mind:  For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress.  I shall not be forsaken (Ps. 62:5-6). The monastic in me is comfortable with being in the moment.  I embrace the idea that I am being saved constantly and that I can experience salvation now–not just after I die.  Salvation helps me live like I belong to someone, not like I am roaming aimlessly.  Even Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven (and salvation) as being here and now–salvation is at hand now….salvation is within you now.  Salvation is living life humbly–recognizing we need God, we can’t do it by ourselves.  If we are queen (or king), we don’t need anyone else.  Salvation reminds us that we do and that all of us do–it is not just extended to me and people like me.  The Kingdom of Heaven is for everyone–the poor, the homeless, the socially unacceptable, those without any power, those who are invisible.  Salvation is being saved from ourselves and our exaggerated sense of self-importance.  Salvation is about being welcomed back into the community where we are all equals, without social or economic hierarchies.DSC_2620

Amazingly, while the concept of salvation and the Kingdom of Heaven challenged me, it was the lesson on the cross that has lingered in my head for months.

What exactly did the Jesus’s death on the cross accomplish?  Was it really necessary?  How has it changed my life?

I struggle to answer these questions.  My darling husband stated in that Sunday School lesson that it was not the will of God for Jesus to be killed.  Jesus was killed because we are imperfect, flawed humans.  We like things to stay how they are.  We don’t like social structures upset.  We don’t like the weak to be called strong, the meek to inherit the earth, or the criminal to be told they will sit with Jesus in heaven.  We like hierarchies and knowing who is and who is out.  We like to be right and to know that we are the chosen people–“they” are not, but we are.  We like to think that the rich and powerful have been given their gifts because God loves them more and they have done the right things.  Jesus disrupted all this thinking and turned things upside.  Of course humans would kill him–he was telling the establishment (society and the religious) that being good and following laws wasn’t enough.  Being rich and powerful wasn’t enough, according to many of Jesus’ teachings.  There’s a reason that prophets were killed and sent to live on the outskirts—loving God and neighbors like Jesus instructs isn’t an easy thing.

While it may not have been God’s will for Jesus to have died, I suspect that there was really no other option for Jesus knowing human nature.  Our pride and desire to maintain the status quo killed Jesus.

But what of the resurrection?  While I believe that Jesus’s resurrection has defeated death and sin, I don’t really understand what that means.  Death’s defeat is one of the most ambiguous things about my theology.  Because I believe our job is to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, I don’t know what that means for the after-life.  I struggle with how Jesus’s resurrection changes my everyday life.

That’s it.

This week I am forced to think about the hard things—cruxifixion…..resurrection….their significance.   I think of how Jesus died, not just on his cross, but without a fight.  The events of Holy Week speak to me more of how I deal with others than of anything else.  I love Easter Sunday–the flowers, the music, the Hallelujah chorus, and trumpets.  I love the packed churches.   Easter is so much more than that though.  That is what I am wrestling with.




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