On Wednesday morning, I woke up to find this cartoon on my Facebook newsfeed. It’s a different take on Jesus confronting the disciples after his lonely agonizing time in the Garden of Gethsemane on Thursday of Holy Week. I wish I had had it, to show Robert at the Verizon store. He may or may not care that it’s Holy Week, but I’ll guarantee you that after the chuckle, he’ll get something about what Jesus experienced during it.
So, let’s fast forward to this morning and I’m at my regular place at 6:30 a.m. (at the Original Pancake House) and our server asks how we are doing. In response, I asked her, “Do you know that it’s Holy Week?” She knows I’m a pastor, so she didn’t flinch and said, “Why, yes I do.” A few minutes later she comes out with my bacon and eggs. Look closely and you’ll see that my bacon was served in the shape of a cross. I’m not sure what this says about my server’s faith, but it I’m thinking she thought about what a cross was for just for a tenth of a second. I know I did before I put the bacon strips back in their usual serving pattern.
When I leave the OPH I turn the car radio onto MPR because the KQ morning show is having commercials. The first words I hear are that this week is a sacred time for both Christians and Jews. For Jews it’s Passover. For Christians it’s Holy Week. The interview that follows is with a person who is living with ALS. And the first words he says are, “In spite of its darkness I have always loved Holy Week, it is the complete package, a story where each of us can find an element to which we can relate.”
Most weeks are the complete package, life condensed into a few days. Perhaps this week, the week we remember the last week of Jesus’ life is Holy not just because of what happened to him, but because, “each of us can find an element to which we can relate.” Sometimes we experience those elements in something less than a profound moment, and yet there is something Holy about them all.
For Jesus there is the “high” of Palm Sunday and the “low” of his humiliation, the tender depth of the moment of sharing that Last Supper and the shock of his arrest. There is the crisis Jesus experiences in the garden, and the moment of courage when he picks himself up and faces what is to come. There is the touching moment of Jesus forgiving his captors and the desperate moment on the cross of, “It is finished.”
Not all of us may know that it is Holy Week, but we all know its elements. The important thing is that we allow ourselves to relate, to search for a way, any way to be connected to God. This can happen at many levels; it can be the cartoon you read on Facebook or how your bacon and eggs comes on a plate. It comes at the price of remembering the betrayal of our closest friends, the symbol of our greatest humiliation, even facing our own death.
The end of Holy Week is not what we might expect from these profoundly challenging elements of life; rather it is the hope of the resurrection. Or as one preacher put it, “It may be Friday (meaning Good Friday) but Sunday (meaning Easter Sunday) is coming!” That is what we celebrate on Easter Sunday, this Sunday. I hope Robert at the Verizon store and my server at OPH can also relate to the elements of life that we will celebrate in things like; a high of 60 degrees promised for Sunday (after snow on Thursday) the surprise of your friend picking up the check for breakfast when it’s your turn, the joy that promises that death is never the last word.