This week we the church still ourselves and remember the point of everything. We have been rushing around, busy about our lives, self-important. We have been preparing meals, fixing cars, paying bills, doing our taxes, cooking meals, changing diapers, driving to work, grading papers. And this is exactly what we are supposed to be doing. We have been obedient in the small things, living the lives God has called us to live. We have been training, rejoicing, mourning, and surviving. But these past few weeks Lent has invited us to pause and to consider. To pull back and reflect. And now, this week of all weeks, Holy Week, there is something much bigger than our lives at hand. We can put ourselves aside for a moment in a blessed self-forgetfulness. The truth is, we can’t understand why the cooking and the driving and the partying and the surviving and the bills and the discipline matter at all if we don’t understand Holy Week. The three days approaching are the most precious of the year in the church calendar. This Wednesday we build toward it. Next Monday it will be behind us and we will be in Easter season.
All of history before the cross builds toward it, and everything that has happened since flows out of it. The Church teaches that Christ died to cleanse us with his blood. In a mystical reality, all who look to Him and lay down their lives are washed clean, adopted, made holy. He died for us, and because of this, we aren’t living our lives out of fear or strife, but out of a place of great safety as loved children. Ultimately, we are secure in Christ. He accepts us and we are okay as we are. After He had given up his spirit he descended into hell. His body stayed silent and lifeless and dead and the world was silent, for three days. Then, there was a stir… “They have taken my Lord!” Mary Magdalene cried, and Jesus said one word in a voice of gentleness and knowledge and disclosure and kindness, “Mary.” And she knew it was Him. Then the ripple of hope grew as he appeared to his disciples, to more strangers, to crowds. He had defeated death forever, which means we too will never truly die. We will pause and wake again.
But first, this week, we think of Christ’s love. He wanted to save us and in order to do so, he had to give Himself. Nothing else would do. This week priests all over the world wear red and the communion table is red and we are reminded of God himself letting His life pour out of Him because he wanted us back, though we wanted Him not.
We can’t really get completely at it. Prose won’t do it. Poetry gets closer. E.E. Cummings wrote,
“here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide. ”
I think he was talking about human love in this poem, though the whole poem could be understood to be about Christian love. Regardless, the root of the root of the tree is a cross, and the Triune God invites us today to stare at it and to understand a little more what it means for us. Another poet, T.S. Eliot wrote,
“Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only dance.”
We pause our dances this week of all weeks, and especially on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, to try to look at the still point, the Triune God. And then on Sunday, on the most important day, we burst forth with such dancing and singing and rejoicing and feasting as the world has ever seen. Christ rose from the grave. But first, He climbed on a cross. Till Sunday think upon His love for you, and let His wounds heal your heart.