Dear St. Mark friends,
Resistance to Christianity and all faiths is on the rise worldwide. In light of so much discord all around us, why Holy Week? Why continue to lift up Palm Sunday and the passion of Jesus?
Because we share in his experience of exclusion. This is our story, too.
The terror that lurks behind this story is familiar ground to us. We see our own reflections in the faces of the crowds…those who first welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, only to turn against him by the end of the week. We know how to identify the so-called saviors of this world…falling down before them in desperate gratitude, believing they’ll give us whatever our hearts desire. But eventually, we turn against them when they fail to deliver.
Why Holy Week? Because it’s redemptive to see this behavior depicted so honestly in the Bible…just as it is in our lives. Holy Week is our story…about the people we truly are rather than the people we’d like to think we are. Yet, because the events surrounding Holy Week are genuinely about us, there will always be the urge to turn and run…to exclude the truth about ourselves and those who embody it.
The Savior who rode in among us on Palm Sunday intruded into our lives the same way a surgeon’s knife cuts into our bodies. If we’re to be healed of what ails us, it won’t be painless.
The terrible events portrayed in Holy Week ask each of us: Are we prepared to follow Jesus through all the circumstances of our lives…or just those that meet with our approval?
Jesus did not flinch from the murderous mob. He did not sidestep the terror of death or escape into some ethereal world, immune from suffering and pain. He passed through the waving palm branches and marched with us to Golgotha, the place of death. He embraced the terrible, painful ambiguity of human existence with one message for all time: “Brothers and sisters, because of my great love for you, I am willing to die that you might live!”
Why Holy Week? Because through it all, Jesus is still our Lord…and this is still our story.
Walking this journey of faith with you,
Pastor Mark Hagen