Exaltation, Desolation, & Restoration: A Holy Week Reflection

"Crucifixion" by Giotto Assisi
“Crucifixion” by Giotto Assisi

Holy Week is for me the most formative set of days in the Christian year. It tells the story of salvation like nothing else can and it forces us, if we are willing to go on the journey, to walk through the raw, difficult, and real path that is our salvation. From the earliest of days Christians have gone on this journey and have been transformed by it. So it is my prayer that we go on this journey together also.

It starts like so many other situations in our life, with exaltation. Like a Hollywood movie all is well and you wonder how something so exciting can turn so desolate so quickly. Did people have short memories? Were folks so naive that they easily believed the religious leaders? Why would the Romans care?

The list of questions is endless, but I think in the end we too would have chosen to follow along. It is difficult to find your voice when it does not match the voice of the powerful. After all if Jesus was not going to bring about the golden age for Israel then why even bother? Why stir things up and make it more difficult?

Maybe it was disappointment on the part of the average person more than anything else.

The tale is dramatic it gets our attention. Soon the one exalted as king is now treated like a common criminal. The wonder maker now seems powerless. The many that he taught, healed, and freed nowhere to be found. Even those closest to him left in fear and shame.

All so that we could experience salvation, healing, wholeness, restoration, reconciliation, and redemption. All so that we could live, so that we and all of creation could flourish. All so that creation would know the depths of God’s love for us. So that we would know that the brokenness that the world is experiencing is not the final word.

Resurrection provides for the needed vindication of the way of love. For a reorientation of our shared life from our own desires to flourishing for the life of the world. Healing and reconciliation becoming the markers of our shared life. Forgiveness and transformation becoming the avenues of Grace at work in our lives. A total restoration made possible because of the life, death, and resurrection.

Sometimes when we know the end of a story it can easily loose its impact on us. This is why we must tell the story robustly, why we must walk with an awareness of Jesus’ walk throughout the week.

Here at Grace Community we gather this weekend to tell this amazing story through music, drama, and words. It is truly the work of the people for this season and I am thankful that we are able to experience the breadth of emotions that make room for the Holy Spirit to convict us again of our need for divine grace.

It is my prayer that we walk through the week alongside Jesus. That everyday this week we pause and think about those last days, the miracles, the conversations, the prayers, the fears, the betrayals, the judgements, the desolation, the fleeting hope . . .

Let us not hurry to the celebration, we need to meet the story in its horror & beauty:

A cross of all things–a guillotine, a gallows–but the cross at the same time as the crossroads of eternity and time, as the place where such a mighty heart was broken that the healing power of God himself could flow through it into a sick and broken world.

Frederick Buechner
in The Faces of Jesus: A Life Story

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