Over the course of the next 10 days, we will walk the events of the last days and weeks of Jesus’ life. We will hear the story of his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, then hear the crowd quickly change from cheering him to mocking him. We will wait with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, watch as he is betrayed by his friends, arrested, and tried before Pilate. We will walk with him as he is beaten, stripped, has a crown of thorns jammed on his head, and is made to carry his cross to Golgotha. And we will stand, with Mary and John, at the foot of the cross weeping as he breathes his last breath. Then we will take that final walk with him as he is laid in the tomb.
Why do we do this? Why do we, year after year, retell the story?
Well, because we need to bear witness to what happened to Jesus. To see and feel the depths to which human fear, human need for control and power can take us. We need to bear witness to the spectacle of humans arresting, trying, and violently killing God’s Son, God’s unique One. We need to do so not just because it happened then, but because it still happens. Because we still turn from God and God’s perfect love. We still place things other than God at the center of our lives, like our fears or our need for power, and we still let those things control us. We crucify Jesus over and over again. We have not yet fully comprehended that fear, the pursuit of power, and our need for violence are dead ends. And so we need to hear this story.
And yet, we know that the story does not end with Jesus’ death. We know that, while Good Friday always happens, it happened to Jesus and happens to each of us, we know that Easter is coming. We know that on Sunday morning the tomb was empty- death was not strong enough to contain Jesus and God raised him to new life- life that lives in each of us. Easter is the exclamation point on God’s eternal YES to life. Easter assures us that God’s love is stronger than fear, stronger than human power, stronger even than Good Fridayand death. It assures us that the love that was present in Creation and was focused in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is everywhere- shot through all of Creation, all time and space. It assures us that, while we don’t know the specifics of our future, either as individuals or as a planet, we know how it ends, we have seen the end of the Story. And it is good. Very good. It is held in God. Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
I invite you to walk the journey of Holy Week and Easter with us at St. Peter’s. I promise you it is the best story ever, with an ending that is just to live for.