Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This is the collect for Palm Sunday, the opening of Holy Week, and it is an invitation to us to walk “in the way of the cross” as Jesus did. It is a reminder as well that the way of the cross is also the path to salvation and resurrection. Holy Week is the last week of Lent, comprised of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and culminates with Easter Sunday. (I also learned that in some traditions Wednesday is call “Spy Wednesday”!) For those that take the opportunity to observe the various services and times of reflection, and that is very hard in our age, it can be a powerful time of remembering Christ’s journey and suffering and time of reflection on our own journey. This year it is the combination of the two that strikes me; we are living in Holy Week all the time.
In a very real sense Holy Week so clearly reflects our own status as we live in two worlds. Jesus knew when he went up to Jerusalem that he was going up to offer himself as a sacrifice (Matt. 26:2, Heb. 7:27). But he knew also that through this sacrifice he would save all humanity and would be glorified and raised from the dead. The disciples didn’t know this. They walked into Jerusalem excited and elated that Jesus was finally getting the praise and adulation he deserved! Hosanna! Finally Jesus was being recognize as the messiah, the son of David! Hosanna! But then the week progressed, busy with preparations for Passover, the meal itself with its awkward moments, and then the betrayal, “trial,” and execution. The dark long hours after Jesus was really and finally gone. The reality sank deep into their souls; they had been wrong. Then the morning, the disbelief and the elation of hearing that he was alive! Confusion and joy, doubt and relief as they slowly began to realize that Jesus was indeed the Christ, he had been raised from the dead and that his journey would know become our own. We too would have enteral life through, with, and in him.
And so our days go on. Not always in that order, assuredly. Our joys and doubts, fears and relief ebb and flow as we continue to walk in this world that is so full of sadness, sorrow, and death. Yet now we know where that where this journey ends. We know that with each step we are also journeying towards Jerusalem, not as messiahs or sacrifices, that is not our role, but to celebrate the truth that the Messiah as come and that we too will be raised with him. Jesus’ days in that week were no doubt filled with both bitterness and joy, mixed together so thoroughly that they were indistinguishable, as the hardships and pain were real but he knew the end was absolute victory. So we should embrace our Holy Week knowing that the pain is real, the suffering is ours to bear, but the victory has been won and so the bitterest of the dregs is made palatable.
So let us walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself an offering and sacrifice to God. Amen.