Things went downhill fast, didn’t they? In less than an hour,] we have gone from shouting “hosanna!” waving palms and singing, to shouting “crucify him!” with the mob. We’ve all been swept along amid an outpouring first of love and then of violence.
When I was young, I was able to skip over the violence part of the story. We went from palm-waving on Palm Sunday directly to new-clothes wearing on Easter Sunday, adorned with hats and white gloves. We didn’t read the Passion on this day. We didn’t observe Holy Week, except to name the days.
I knew the story, of course, I knew there was a day called Good Friday although for the life of me I couldn’t understand why it was good. But most of it happened off stage. I was able to keep my distance. I didn’t have to look at it.
But if I don’t look at it, then I will never be able to sort out what it means, to understand how or what this has to do with God’s love, much less our salvation.
Our challenge during this coming Holy Week, then, is to come closer, to venture into that now silent aftermath after the Centurion’s declaration with our hearts open to whatever healing and forgiveness we are in need of, or need to bestow upon others.
Indeed, this story IS about salvation. And so our task is to slow things down and go back over what has happened, to go over what keeps happening in our world that has not stopped with the hating and hurting with a new perspective.
Our task is to hear and remember the command of the Maundy: love one another, do this in remembrance of me. Our task is to look again at this death and to be able to name our needs, to name our sins, to name those we have wronged and to name those who have wronged us. To name suffering, betrayal and humiliation, breaking and being broken as that in which we are all caught up, in one way or another.
And then to lay it all down on Friday at the feet of the one who suffered, not so that we would never suffer, but so that we would not suffer alone.
To lay down our penchant for wounding others. To lay down our bitterness toward those who have hurt us. To lay down those things we do to each other that wound the heart of God.
Crucifixion shows what the world does, not only to God, but to God’s own beloved people not only to Jesus but to you and me. We are destroyed by mocking and cruelty, all of us, victim and perpetrator alike. We are all of us destroyed by jealousy and suspicion. We are all of us destroyed by the unbridled drive for power and by violence.
So let us make this a truly Holy Week, this week that is at the heart of our life of faith. Let us make time to make it Holy, to experience the breadth and depth of it.
Let us gird our loins and dare to come closer this week and be humbled and touched and finally healed by God’s loving embrace again.