The Cross is Not the End

Once again we find ourselves at the beginning of Holy Week; walking the last days of Jesus’ life in our services, watching at the foot of the cross, waiting while he lies in the the Tomb, and finally, joyfully welcoming the empty tomb with the cry of “He is Risen” on Easter Sunday.

One of the things I always think about as I walk this week with the Church is how the disciples, Jesus’ friends and companions, must have felt as these events unfolded. They entered Jerusalem with him in great triumph, likely feeling excited, hopeful about what might happen next. They celebrated the Passover with him and heard him talk about loving one another, watched and felt him wash their feet, heard him talk about dying, and watched him go out to pray. They were there when he was arrested, saw his trial, and finally knew of his death on the cross (only the women stayed with him as he died). What a roller coaster of emotions.

This enigmatic, life-filled man they loved and knew, dead and gone. Because we know the story, we know that it does not end at the cross, we don’t feel the utter grief, loneliness, hopelessness they likely knew. But we need to remember that their world had fallen apart and they had no idea what came next. True, he had told them, but they didn’t understand—how could they? How could they really wrap their minds around this paradoxical story of suffering and joy, death and life. How can we?

Well, I am not sure we really can wrap our minds around it. This is one of those stories that we have to enter into—have to experience, feel, and know in our bones. It is not a “head thing” but a heart thing. A heart thing that on some deep level we know to be true. We know that suffering, pain, and death are part of this life. We know that, try as we might, there is no way around that. The way through it is through it—there are no end runs. But, unlike those first disciples, we can go through it knowing that the cross is not the end, but the beginning. Knowing that Good Friday happens, but Easter always follows. God’s love is stronger than anything the world can throw at us, stronger even than death.

This Holy Week and Easter I invite you to come to church and walk this journey with Sean and me. Hear the stories and feel them in your bones, let them settle into the cracks of your being, and let them change you. And then join with us on Easter Morning as we proclaim with joy that Christ is alive! He is Risen. And so are we. Amen. Alleluia!