We have just come through what is known as Holy Week and during that week we observe the Triduum – the Great Three Days. These three days are the most intense of the Christian year and in them we hear a story which could be ripped from our own headlines. It’s a story of a charismatic change agent who is popularly acclaimed by the people. Rumor has it he is Son of God and a Son of David – a dual threat to politics and the religious establishment. He sweeps into town on Passion Sunday to the cries of “Hosanna!” which means “save us!” The people want a Savior from Rome’s oppressive grip. The stakes are high and the powers of Rome and Temple are threatened by the possibility of unrest. Jesus meets with his disciples on Maundy Thursday and gives them a new commandment – love one another as I have loved you. But talk of love becomes treachery and betrayal when one of the inner circle sells Jesus out for some silver coins. A kangaroo court ensues, police brutality against a prisoner, a sham trial without evidence, a quick conviction, a not so quick and torturous death, and the darkness of a donated burial site.
While the telling of Jesus’ final hours on earth end in his physical death, this story is also our own. Many of you who are regulars at Grace have heard me say that death and resurrection are the pattern of our lives. Anytime we experience change, something has to die for something new to happen. It’s all about transformation. While we experience the “big D” at the end of our lives, our life pattern is filled with “little d” deaths and they can be very painful. They can be brought about by betrayal, fear, jealousy, anger. These “little d” deaths take us to many a Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday … but hang on, because Sunday resurrection is coming!
I wish it were different. I don’t like dying any more than the next guy; but this seems to be the pattern which holds true. Dying eventually results in rising again, transformed and changed, into a new reality … but it can also take a long time. There’s also a temptation to stay stuck where we are. I love Luke’s telling of the men who ask the women, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” There is a strong temptation to try and hold on to what has died even though there is no life left there. Resurrection always means letting go completely and it means you will be different in some significant way. And this is why “so what?” is a “big what!” – because resurrection is a reality into which we live each and every day … even if we have to die to get there. Theologian Frederick Buechner said this, “Resurrection is knowing that the worst thing that can happen to you will never be the last thing to happen to you.” The word thing is NEVER the last thing … that’s good news.
Now this Easter, I know that some of you are not really in a place of resurrection right now. Our life chronologies do not follow the Church Year! You may still be back on Maundy Thursday trying to feel the love yet sensing the other shoe is going to drop or you’re about to get thrown under the bus. Maybe you’re in a Good Friday space where what you have known is ended – done and there is no going back and everything just hurts. You might still be in that tomb on Holy Saturday, and it’s dark, and you are desperately hoping somebody’s going to roll that stone away. But for all of us who may not be at Easter in our lives right now, there are some of us here who are. This is why we come together every week at Grace – to remind ourselves that resurrection is real and the worst thing will never be the last thing! The Church exists to be a community of people who are all in different places and who come together to encourage each other, remind each other, and lift each other up. For all of us having an Easter morning, we come to hold our hands out to our sisters and brothers who may be somewhere else on that Maundy Thursday to Easter journey and, grabbing hold of their hands, we can say, “Hang on! We got you! Easter is coming!” That’s what we do and we are sustained in this by the Eucharist each week – the meal of Christ’s Body and Blood meant to help us continue our journey. That’s a pretty big “what.” And that’s why, no matter where we are in spirit, we can boldly proclaim, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!”