It has been a destabilizing year.
We want Jesus to stabilize our lives. Holy Week was and is profoundly destabilizing.
A virus showed up a little more than a year ago. We entered into a year of shifting safety protocols, economic damage, illness, racial reckoning, tragic deaths, tension over how to reduce impact or respond to the virus, disputes prior to the election, disputes after the election and the list could go on…
Mental models we lived with about being church, ministry, mission and living the good life were seriously messed with as we lived into what we used to sing about as teenagers. The “church is not the building…The Church it is the people, living out their lives.” (footnote 1)
This is a destabilizing time in my life. As the weeks spin by my life becomes less stable. I am preparing to conclude a call I have loved and that has “used all of me.” (footnote 2) Our staff is talking about how to execute a smooth transition like a track team exchanges the baton for the next leg of the relay.
Holy Week is unfolding. Even though we know the Story, the whole chain of events that week destabilized what people thought about God, Jesus and being faithful. Familiarity can blind us to how shocking and disrupting it was. The Passion of Christ continues to destabilize our lives now.
Palm Sunday – Think about how the disturbing it was for the political and religious leaders to hear people shouting “Hosanna” (literally. “Save us, we pray”) as Jesus entered Jerusalem. They knew what the symbolism of Jesus riding into town on a donkey and this wild welcome meant. It was a challenge to their political order and leadership. People saw Jesus as the new David-like king. God was up to something different.
Maundy Thursday – Jesus gives us a new command to “Love one another.” The word Maundy come from the word “mandatum” (command). The harder you try to love God and love your neighbor as yourself, the harder it gets. Jesus deconstructs ideas of holiness and a system of worship built around the sacrifice of animals and commands a focus on love as a way to worship our God who loved us first. Loving God and loving our neighbors are something we will always be practicing to better understand. They are never finished.
We remember the Lord’s Supper. Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, first upending norms, then shares with the disciples the meal that gives us a taste of the rule of God, proclaims forgiveness, and shows God’s grace in bread and wine. The meal is a great source of comfort, but it also calls for unity and fellowship among people who share little more than following Jesus. That is reorienting.
Day by day God calls us deeper into the Story of Christ’s passion.
Bishop Jon’s Holy Week message will continue each day with an email.
Click here to sign up for the SW MN Synod E-news to receive his messages.
The Holy Week message will be posted in its entirety on Tuesday, April 6th.
May you have a blessed Holy Week as you remember the Passion of Christ.
Footnote 1: Jay Beech – We are the Church
Footnote 2: Rev. Joyce Piper Quote