We live in a complex world, where life is lived in tension. We live in the tension of the different roles that we play: like parent, child, teacher, student, minister, congregant, friend and neighbour etc. We also live in the tension of a changing Canadian environment.
Forty years ago (give or take) everyone went to church; it was the social hub of people’s lives. Every family knew their lawyer, their accountant, their mechanic, their banker and their teacher (to name a few) from their church. Today, it is less rare to find that we have the same relationships based on the same places of worship.
This week, Christians enter into the most intense period of tension in the story. This is Holy Week; the week between Palm Sunday, when Jesus rides triumphantly into town in protest against the Roman Empire, and Easter Sunday when Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb and people begin to meet the Resurrected, Risen Christ.
Between those two celebratory Sunday celebrations, however, the story takes us into the depths of our despair, into the darkness, into the tension that we live as Christians all the time.
The Triduum (“Three Days”) begins on Thursday – called Maundy Thursday to remind us of the story that we share on that evening – when Jesus tells his friends “A new commandment I give, love one another, as I have loved you.” Maundy comes from the Latin word which is the first in that phrase. It is typically the night when we might share in a foot washing ceremony, a reminder of being servants to all.
Maundy Thursday coincides with the festival of Passover in the Jewish tradition, and so some Christian communities will celebrate the Passover Haggadah (meal) together to remind each other why Jesus and his friends gathered in that evening.
Following Maundy Thursday, is Good Friday. This is the day in which Christians recall the passion and the crucifixion of Jesus. It is that day which reminds us today still of our suffering and abandonment, of our exile and our losses. It is a day that reminds us that we face death – our own deaths and those of those we love. It is a day that calls us to remember our brokenness, and yet we call it Good.
We live in the tension of that suffering, abandonment, exile, loss, and brokenness through Holy Saturday; the day to commemorate Jesus’ lying in the tomb. Holy Saturday is the day of tension, the day we live in waiting for the excitement of Easter Sunday.
We know ourselves bound for the kingdom of God – pain and hope, dying and rising again – waiting in the unresolved, waiting in the mystery of Holy Saturday. To wake up on Easter Sunday and find that the story has resolved once again and that God breaks forth from the tomb, offering forgiveness, hope, new life. In our every day lives we catch sight of it here and there, we get a word of it, we listen and we know hope because of the resurrection story.
And yet, we live in tension because we still experience the things of Good Friday, yet we live as people who celebrate Easter Sunday. Sometimes it seems as though we are still waiting in that Holy Saturday – the unresolved waiting time, knowing that the story tells us that resurrection comes, and yet questioning when and how. As we watch the world seemingly implode around us, we hold onto the stories of our faith that God works in the mystery of the tension.
And we say Thanks be to God! because that’s all we can say, in the midst of the brokenness of our world, and in the brokenness of our lives. Joy comes with the dawn of Easter; may we keep our eyes open for Easter breaking forth in our story and in our lives – always!