Friday, March 27, 2009

Holy Week 2009

Dear Friends in Christ,

Few, if any of us, can fathom the depth of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. We hear the scriptures read and, through the gifts of bread and wine, remember our Lord’s broken body and shed blood. But what is absolutely impossible for us to comprehend is the love of God that would surrender a holy, sinless, innocent life to a mob’s madness and soldiers’ cruelties. Who is this One with whom we have to do who loves us from the lonely immanence of a splintered tree? What is this love of God that endures the torture of the cross, refusing to hold our sins against us?

Here, dear ones, is the mystery and wonder of the week into which we journey shortly. Here, we gaze upon the Son of God who wears this lonely crown, abandoned by the likes of us to the brutalities of human meanness. Here, between a darkened sky and a trembling earth, God dangles from a tree to love us back to himself. How is this possible?

How? Because this lonely crown is, in an ultimate sense, a crown of trust. Our Lord Jesus Christ, broken by the lash of the whip and bloodied by the piercing of a crown’s thorns, died trusting God the Father. He endured Calvary’s death to show us that nothing can now or ever separate us from God’s heart of love.

At times life would crush us under a nameless, cold and calculating despair. If we choose to do so, the loss of our health or the destruction of a friendship or the fracturing of a marriage or the death of a loved one can wring the very life out of our souls. In fact, there is no way to navigate the landscape between birth and death without enduring these and hundreds of other disappointing moments.

And so what can this week, on this first day of our Lord’s last days, say to us who know suffering? Could it be that this week we call “holy” is God’s way of reminding us that even the sinless, perfect Son of God wore a lonely crown so we don’t have to. And because he took on himself our struggles, our pain, our loneliness, and our death, we can trust him now and always to transform our darkness into light, our weakness into strength, our sorrow into hope, and our death into life.

This holy week and Easter is God’s invitation to us, broken though we are, to trust that God is the One who is the giver of life, the great Lover of our souls. And when the thorny crown of death pierces our brow and mocks our hope, we of faith can set our face like flint toward the bright dawn of God’s Kingdom, believing that God brings life from the terrors that cast ominous shadows over our dreams. This is the promise of Holy Week and Easter, given us in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faithfully yours in Christ's love,


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