Holy week. It comes, feels like a sacred hush, forced over a huddle of school kids, struggling to contain their excitement of sensing the holy. We are paused, with held breath, waiting for the next step to play out before us. Riding triumphant after a weekend of “Hosanna”s, arms weary from waving palm branches, hoping for one glimpse of this Messiah who holds enough power that he can ride on a donkey and still sway crowds. If only he would glance my way. One look and he would know me to my core, know my hunger for his triumphant rule over the powers of this world.
Friday hits with a dull thud. Our minds not quite able to keep up with the speed this has all turned around. He was coming to rule! How can he be dead? What good is a dead messiah to us? How can the Prince of Peace be the one dying amidst the bombing, amidst the heart-wrenching destruction being caused in this world?
We are poured out, just as he was. I don’t know that I will ever be filled again.
I’ve been writing in fragments all week, yearning to go deeper, but being tugged back again and again from the peaceful centre, never able to stay for long. My heart is heavy from the events of Holy Week, broken by the absence of the Sacred in people’s actions.
We are laid open, pierced through.
Saturday brings silence. And I huddle away from news of the world, hibernate in my safe bubble as the rain falls.
And Sunday comes, ushered in under the guise of just another day, clouds loosing their tears upon our sodden patch of earth. How can we turn back now? How can we live in this place now, when we had our Messiah in our grasp?
Like the clouds blanketed over us, dampening the sun, so too God blankets us in darkness, holds us close as we mourn. Our longing for triumph has been shown, our desperation to be on the “right side”, to align with the winners. And yet God comes to us, broken, claiming that to win we must break open, to triumph we must first surrender any hopes we have to win.
With this death and resurrection, God levels the playing field. God reaches down and claims us all as heirs with Christ. No wonder Christ was such good news for the marginalized. In this upside-down kingdom, where the King dies for the slaves, the marginalized are invited into the throneroom as family and privilege is broken down. Power is reallocated: slaves are made free, free men are enslaved. Where I have been born free, I am asked to obey. Where I have been held in bondage, I am freed.
Here in this broken world we can be most sure of God’s presence with us. Immanuel is not just God present with us in the brokenness, but God suffering with us.
I know Easter is placed in the Northern Hemisphere’s spring, with signs of new life and hope, but here as I look around at our autumn leaves as they gather on the ground, I can’t help but think that the old order is falling.
We are called to step into this new kingdom, right here amidst the signs of the old one still present. And it is hard. And it hurts. This now-but-not-yet pulls in opposing directions. And we must stand in the tension. Like a woman in labour, the pressure is immense. Knowing God is here in the tension with us does not seem to make it easier to bear, but we still long to bear forth, even knowing the pain that must come in it happening. We are given freedom with the Easter story, yet we are burdened by it. Yet that burdening brings us into unity with our God who bears it too.
Original photo by Jan Erik Waider.