Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Call to Holy Week

A message to the members of Church of Our Saviour, Mill Valley:

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

As I was doing the final edit on this week's e-blast, my colleage at St. John's, Ross, Chris Rankin-Williams, noted on his Facebook page that the Ross Recreation department was hosting an Easter egg hunt — on Palm Sunday.

For me, it was both cause for laughter and cause for consternation: Laughter at the ridiculous vision of hunting for Easter eggs on a day I have always set aside for reflection on the story of Jesus' Passion; Consternation at the schedulers' profoundly careless disconnect from the Christian calendar that carried Easter and its customs in the West for centuries.

But most of all it speaks to just how counter-cultural in some ways Holy Week has become. Holy Week is an embrace (rather than a denial) of the suffering in our midst and around the world across the ages. Holy Week is a recognition (rather than an arrogant blindness) to human vulnerability to death. Holy Week is a witness (rather than willful ignorance) of the terrible costs of human hubris and the evils that are just as real in the twenty-first century as they were in the first.

Why did Jesus die?

It's a question I'm taking to our confirmands this Palm Sunday evening. We Christians have several answers that have accumulated across the centuries. But none of them adequately embrace the experience of Holy Week: the Supper, the Passion, and the Cross.

I urge you to bring this question with you and join us this week for our Holy Week services. It's a question that Christians have always known needs to be lived in community, not merely answered by a theology text. It's not a question that can be ignored, either. Behind it, of course, is the question about our own mortality and frailty, our vulnerability, and also our arrogance and lusts for power.

Most of all, it is a question of love, and whether death can truly vanquish it.

By living into this question, we have a chance to discover the true meaning of what happens next.

Then we might be truly ready to hunt for some Easter eggs. . .

Love to you all, and with blessings this Holy Week!

Br. Richard Edward+

(After this was posted, a parishioner wrote me to tell me Mill Valley's Easter Egg Hunt was the Saturday before Palm Sunday!)