When I was a child, our church celebrated Easter Sunday, the triumphant day of resurrection. Perhaps there was a Maundy Thursday service of some kind, but if so, nothing was memorable. We focused on expressing new life in Christ and giving glory to God (to put it most positively) by showing up on Easter morning in new clothes.
As an adult I find it much more wonderful to celebrate, or walk through, the whole of Passion Week. In what happens to Jesus there is so much that speaks to our human condition. How many of us have experienced betrayal by someone who was a close part of our circle, maybe even a spouse or a parent or a sibling—betrayal in terrible proportions, or even in relatively small things? I think of the wife whose husband has an affair with her best friend. Any betrayal is devastating.
What about having friends disappear when you most need them? I think of a breast cancer patient who told me that her mother was no longer talking with her. Or the one whose husband walked out not long after the diagnosis. To be abandoned by friends is bad enough. To cry out to God and feel as if God is not there is even harder.
What about being accused unjustly, or treated abusively and derisively? Such treatment may well steal our sense of self. Or what about Jesus’ disciples in this story? Like them we have notions about the purpose of what we are doing. How hard it is if what we have worked for so long suddenly falls apart.
What I learn in the passion story is that my suffering is not unknown, that God is with me in it regardless of how I may feel or how the suffering may have come to pass. And that no matter how bad things are, the suffering is not the end of the story.
What has been your experience of Easter?
How can you connect inwardly with the suffering and the joy of Easter?
Jesus, forgive us for the barriers and blocks we put up to keep us from living in the abundant joy you desire for all of us. May you reign in our hearts and in our world.
For further reference:
Read the passion story in one of the gospels—Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-21.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10: 10).