This week in preparation for recording an Easter sermon one of my confidants relayed how it has been difficult to engage in the usual experiences of Holy Week. For Christians it is the time in the church calendar that commemorates the pivotal events of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
Typically there is pause, the slow, thoughtful end of a Lenten season of surrender. But sheltering-at-home has robbed us of routines, of seasonal recognition and the unfolding of what we have believed to be spiritual intention.
2020 has instead given us a new way of aching for something better. Many of us grieve loved-ones and strangers felled by COVID-19. Many of us face the fear of financial uncertainty. Many us are burdened by an avalanche of information and can't figure out who to listen to. We hope for true leadership in the crisis. We wrestle with our usual misplaced hopes and fears on steroids.
It is a surreal reality. Bizarre. Can this all be happening?
And that is it. Can this be happening?
That is the sense we are meant to have during Holy Week. A numb questioning if it is even real. The surprise of it.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem he was welcomed as a king, set to solve what the crowds assumed was their trouble. Yet his purpose was larger than political boundaries and tribalism. His purpose was global and spiritual in nature. When he was arrested and tried, those who knew him to have the words of life were stricken with fear, things were not unfolding according to their script but to Scripture.
There on the cross as Jesus died, as the sky was dark and the earth shook, those with hope found it dim and were left searching. A surreal reality.
But the work being done was forgiveness. For all who dishonored the holiness of God, a sacrifice was made. What was surreal was truer than anything that had come before.
As the breath left his lips and exclaimed "it is finished" it really was. Absolution. Freedom.
Those watching still couldn't believe it. We have a hard time believing it now. But the waiting, the unknown, the uncertainty would be resolved. The Savior who was killed on the cross would walk out of his grave.
This was living hope then. This is living hope now. Jesus.
Our experience will still be surreal. But resolution is coming. Whether we live or die we live with Him. On this Good Friday, trust in Jesus. In his finished work on the cross to present you as blameless before our Creator God.
Rest in his reality. Breathe in his peace.