Death & Life: the Holy Week dance

Right now we’re in time that traditionally is called Holy Week by Christians, and this is usually more observed by the more liturgical & ritual related churches. It’s always a good idea to consider traditions whether we observe them or not. While this should be one of the best times for Christianity to enjoy it’s moment in the spotlight, I often find that Holy Week (for me) results in a palmface. …you know, smacking your on head because of the irony, or hiding your face behind your hands.

It goes like this: traditionally Palm Sunday is they day Christian remember Jesus entering Jerusalem for the last time, and it was a big deal at that time. A lot of people who had been listening to Jesus during his life time and considering his teaching put on a big welcome ceremony type of thing. Palm Sunday gets its name because it’s remember that many people waved palm branches to welcome Jesus’ coming into Jerusalem at that time. Palm branches because they were readily available and it was kind of like the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag is nowadays. So it was a big time of rejoicing, and that also how Christians remember it nowadays.

Next is Maundy Thursday (I assume this a Latin name, I’m not sure where it comes from) is the day where Jesus would have observed the Seder with his talmidim, also known as the Last Supper with the 12 disciples.

Next is Good Friday, which I was told that it was “good” for us, because this is the day Christian remember as the day Jesus died his terrible death on the cross to make salvation available for all of mankind. A time to consider the realness of sorrow, and not just hide our emotions and “be brave”. Often this is the perfect day for weeping just because we don’t always mourn when we should, but our spirits need to be free enough to feel hurt before we can heal.
I’m not sure if Saturday has an official name, but it’s often considered “Silent Saturday”. We consider the times God seems to be silent in our lives, or in others lives, as we struggle to understand things we don’t see.

Last but far from least is Easter Sunday. This is the big celebration of beautiful surprises that God doesn’t always work in the same ways we do, or how we expect, but God does things we hadn’t previously understood. God makes things beautiful again and brings life where hopelessness was. This is the celebration day for Christians.
Is or should be anyhow.

So in short I love the ideas behind Holy Week and the thought, consideration, and emotion that’s behind it. Yet the reality isn’t the same. Sometimes I think church buildings and church systems almost seem bored of Holy Week. They certainly seem confused about it.

All my life I have heard Evangelicals talking about, “Jesus died on the cross for your sins”, so might think that when Good Friday comes the Christians are all about it, right? That’d be the logically conclusion that Good Friday is the biggest moment for the Christians, right? Remember Jesus being tortured and then dying on a cross on Good Friday. …But do you know what I find?
On Good Friday, when we’re suppose to considering the depths of pain and the reality of loss & heartbreak, and the cost & destruction of sin in this world …and What do the Christians talk about on that day? About how on Easter Sunday Jesus will be alive! Jesus will rise from the dead! How there is hope! …on Good Friday.

Then Easter Sunday roles around, and do you know what they’ll preach for 25 of their 30 minutes? Jesus died on the cross for our sins!

But Easter Sunday is suppose to be about Jesus is alive and arose from the grave. It’s about how we’ve not only been cleared from our sins (on Good Friday), but now we don’t have to be afraid of death, and how God wants to not only be free from sin but to start to live in a way that brings life now and prepares us for more & more life in heaven. We’re no longer prisoners to death, destruction is no longer our native culture, desolation is no longer our native language, but because Jesus arose from the grave we also are meant to arise out of our destructive habits.

I hear a lot of a lot of Christians using a language of death: suffering, self-wreckage, belittling, pseudo-persecution. I whole-heartedly cannot agree with this tendency. Generally I understand where it comes from and the idea behind it, but yet I can’t seem to emend the reasoning of Christians who dwell in death language, verse a God who brings life. Above all, why at Easter should the language of death & dying reign supreme?

Why do Christians talk so big about the events of Good Friday, but when Good Friday comes they can’t bear the weight & fullness of it, so they remind everyone else the Easter is coming! But when Easter comes, they’re back to talking about the events of Good Friday?

I call their bluff.

I say this stems from consumerism. I say it’s not so much that we’re interested in the fullness of Jesus being a worthy self-sacrificial lamb who fulfilled all the Levitical offerings through his torture and death, and it’s not that we’re willing to identify ourselves in that pain & sorrow. Instead maybe all talk is simply to see what we get out of it.
Yet I have to ask: What kind of synthetic system teaches people to acknowledge God merely for what they get out of it, but then doesn’t bother to tell the greater story that they’re right smack in the middle of? Who does that? and Why?

We have some beautiful, beautiful traditions in Christianity, but they’ve also been allowed to become tainted over the generations. We need to personally reconsider what these things mean. We need to consider the heart of God, and then make that the one -or the main focus and filters- through which everything else passes. And maybe it makes me sound like a ninny, but I don’t think all this continual death-language is actually glorifying a God who is known as the Living God, who raised Jesus from the dead, who has come to give life and give it more abundantly, and who speaks through his Living Word.

Death, death is for the old things, the things that have pasted away. The old habits try to haunt us, the old advice that use to dictate us who or what we would be, the old belief that this is all we have and who gives a damn. Death to that! But not to us. Not today. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus. We live today. Today is beautiful, because we have life.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

-the picture above is an old stump which is growing a new tree out the side of it. New life were there was once certain death. Beautiful.-


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