Well, we have arrived. It is Holy Week. We had a wonderful Palm Sunday service two days ago, and it was so wonderful to see all the children wave the palms! I love that tradition. Emma, my wife, was out of town this past weekend, attending the wedding of one of her close friends. On Sunday she went to our friend’s church and heard a sermon that raised an ironic point. During the sermon the preacher said that on Palm , many people remark at how hypocritical the crowds are, for they shout “Hosanna in the highest” only days before they shout “Crucify him!” Emma found this juxtaposition strange, because each year we ask the children of our churches to represent this crowd who welcomes Jesus to Jerusalem. Yet during Palm Sunday no one ever says, “Aww that’s so cute, but you know that those kids are just going to kill Jesus in a few days.”
When Emma said this, I laughed pretty hard.
Of course we wouldn’t say that! Who blames little children for killing Christ? But it made me think. The story of Christ is not a simple, straightforward narrative. It is nuanced and full of difficult moments that force us to ask ourselves, what would I have actually done, were I in their position? We all like to think that we would be there with Jesus the whole time, standing up for him, proclaiming his true identity to the very end. But we are far too often like Peter or Judas at times. We deny, we betray, we are self-interested, and we are afraid. Most of all, we are like the crowds. Caught up in the moment, trying to understand and trying to fit in.
Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” – John 12:35-36 (NRSV)
So much of what Jesus said, especially to the crowds, went in one ear and out the other. I also feel like I miss the point all the time, and when I look back on my life I feel foolish for missing, what appears in hindsight to be, the obvious love of God. There are so many times in my life that I wish I could go back in time and tell myself: “don’t do that,” or “take the other path,” or “God is shouting at you, why won’t you listen?”
Most people skip from Palm Sunday straight to Easter, but this week in between is very powerful for those who pay attention. I really hope you will join us for our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship services. They are both at 7pm in the Sanctuary, and they will be very powerful. But even more than that, I hope you heed the words of Christ in this passage. The season of Easter is long and we will have plenty of time to celebrate the most important part of this story, the resurrection, but don’t miss what happens this week. The light is with us for a little longer, and I pray that you walk with us this week as we experience and participate with Christ in his final days.
Have a wonderful week my friends,