A few years ago the girls and I went together to see the latest teenage dystopian movie that was all the rage, and for which the girls had been waiting. I have to admit that I sat in my seat with my hand over my eyes, peeking through every now and then when things weren’t gross or scary.
It’s natural to want to look away. When things get difficult, or messy, or violent, or scary, we want to look away. We cannot stomach what is happening, and the mode of self-protection is to look away.
This week I have been overwhelmed by the ease with which a white suburban woman like myself can look away from the messiness and violence of the murder trial here in our city. If I cannot stomach it, I can use my streaming services to watch some “fix up my house” or “buy me an island” kind of show, looking away from the horror and difficulty. This week I have also been overwhelmed by the presence of God urging me to refuse to look away. Take it in and see the violence and the messiness of what happened last May. Sit with those witnesses and see the pain on their faces, hear the angst they feel for not being allowed to step in and do something, touch the tears streaming down their faces from the too vivid memory of watching a man die in front them. “Don’t look away,” I hear God pleading with me. I have this strong sense that God knows I need to see, hear, and feel with this trial in order for me to understand that work for justice and my part in it. Don’t look away!
It's some strong irony that this is God’s message to me about another trial, the one that happened two thousand years ago. Please read my words carefully; I am not equating the two in any way. But I feel the same strong compulsion from God toward the capture, trial, and execution of Jesus. Don’t look away.
There are so many other things to do and places to distract this weekend. Getting ready to celebrate the resurrection may require new clothes, a basket of candy, some fine food preparation. But all of these have the ability to distract, helping us look away from the horror and violence of the death of Jesus. I’m not into the gory details of Jesus’ death. But I feel a strong compulsion to sit with the story, to look it straight on, and take it in fully. “Don’t look away,” I hear God pleading with me. I think God knows that if we refuse to look away from the story of Jesus’ violent death, if we take it in even when there are parts that trouble, confuse, and confound us, we will be more ready to enter the early hours of the first day of the week.
Friends, my charge to you on this Holy Thursday, is this: Don’t look away!
If you are inclined to invite a friend, co-worker or acquaintance into the fullness of life in Jesus, direct them to our “All About Easter” website page located HERE. Our online Easter Worship service, complete with the Hallelujah Chorus you won’t want to miss, can be found there on Easter morning.
One last thing, the staff have a message for you this Easter and you can find that video message here.
May you be blessed into a fuller understand as you refuse to look away,
Pastor Becky Jo