Easter comes very early this year, but it remains the most dramatic and wonderful of the Church year. Unlike the Christmas “season,” which has been dominated by marketing pressures and over-sentimentalized to the point where it becomes difficult to experience the full religious depths it contains, Easter and the time leading up to it have largely remained the provenance of the faithful. In truth, the core of the Christian faith lies in the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ—a message which does not pale with the ages, but rather gains in power the more we participate in its drama.
The weeks of Lent provide us with time to read, study, pray, and reflect upon the nature of our life as we live it consciously in the presence of God. Week by week, we hear the Good News of how God’s love was made known by Jesus in his teaching and revelation of God’s love for us.
By the time Palm Sunday comes (March 20th), we cannot remain spectators or passive bystanders. Whether by shouting “Hosanna!” with a palm branch in our hands or crying out with other voices, “Crucify him!” we are drawn into the drama of Holy Week by the readings, music, and liturgy which has the power to stir the depths of our hearts and souls. During those days, we step away from the present routine and step alongside the disciples who were present at the Lord’s great drama, but could not understand its meaning as we do. As we participate, the power of the unfolding story sweeps us along, renewing our awe at the humility of Jesus and the purpose God worked out for our salvation.
Nowhere is this more poignantly felt than during the time from the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday), through the pain of Good Friday, as we spiral into darkness—only to be brought into the light of Easter and the ever-astounding cry, “He is risen!”
These are not just days within a religious calendar: they are a chance for us to participate with heart and spirit in the drama of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s work of redemption for us. By reading and study, by attendance at as many services as we can make, and especially by our focused attention to the details of Jesus’ betrayal, trials, sufferings, and very human death, we gain a fuller appreciation of what cost the Incarnation required.
No matter how intellectually-oriented we might be in some matters, the experience of recreating the Passion and Resurrection of Christ within ourselves and through our common liturgy leaves us changed and awestruck. Drawing upon the power of experiencing Holy Weeks and Easters past, I urge us to gather again “to tell the old, old story” and to re-experience the full range of emotions as we bear witness to what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.
Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter,