Holy Week is nearly upon us. A time when, once again, we allow the great mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection to move in and through us, inviting us to be embraced by his deathless life and claim it as our own. Christianity is a strange faith when you think about it, counter-intuitive to the way we humans seem to be hard-wired. We yearn to climb, to win, to control and to succeed, yet the God revealed in Jesus turns all that upside down.
As Richard Rohr says, “Christ was not the strong, powerful, military Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for throughout their history. He was in fact quite the opposite. This was Jesus’ great revelation, surprise, and a scandal that we still have not comprehended. God is not what we thought God could or should be!”
Instead of exerting divine power, Jesus models that true faithfulness to God means entering in and through our weakness, our pain, even our death. We’ve had a lot of death in our community, over the past few weeks particularly. And we hear a great deal of rhetoric in the world around us about power and greatness. The question for us, as Christians, is to listen deeply to the life and death of Jesus. He yearns for us to have life and have it abundantly, even in the face of suffering, brokenness, pain, confusion and death. But the way into that gorgeous abundant life is through what we most fear and resist.
It takes all of us a long time to move from power to weakness, from glib certitude to vulnerability, from meritocracy to the ocean of grace. Strangely enough, this is especially true for people raised in religion. In Paul’s letters, he consistently idealizes not power but powerlessness, not strength but weakness, not success but the cross… On the cross, God is revealed as vulnerability itself (the Latin root word vulnus means “wound”)…and only vulnerability allows all change, growth and transformation to happen—even in God.
Can we hear that message anew this year? Very often we are pushed into vulnerability rather than entering it willingly – so great is our fear of it – particularly in times of tragedy, loss, rejection and pain. But in Holy Week we are invited to go there willingly, to allow the mystery of this good news to enter into our very being and become a wellspring of healing, joy and transformation here and now. Wherever you are this Holy Week, I encourage you to enter into the three great days—the central liturgies of our lives as people of the Way: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil—which we celebrate as our Easter Eve 3pm service on Saturday. I hope to share the journey with you here.
There are some wonderful and inspiring messages from the recent House of Bishops meeting and from our own Bishop Lee that I commend to you as part of your spiritual journey this week. May you find the courage to follow where God is leading you this Lent that you may know the healing power of God in your life and in our world.
Hope to see you on Sunday,