Monday, April 02, 2018

Skipping the Middle

As a child I grew up in a denomination that skipped Holy Week.   It wasn't that we forgot that Jesus died, it's just that we didn't have special services to talk about it.   We went to church on Sunday and we celebrated Palm Sunday and then the next week we might have Wednesday night regular stuff where it might get mentioned, but basically we jumped over the next few days and came back the next Sunday to celebrate the Resurrection.

We skipped the hard, gut-wrenching icky stuff.   We knew what happened, but we didn't talk about it a lot.  And I never noticed.

Until I married a man a man who had changed denominations and was a United Methodist minister and he pointed that out to me.   Since then, I have spent the last 22 years slowly walking through the week that long week where Jesus went from crowds shouting "Hosanna" to crowds screaming "Crucify Him."  I listened again to Scripture about a Man who had dinner with and washed the feet of men he knew would deny and betray him.   I listened to the prayer that this Man prayed to His Father, begging that he be let off the hook, concluding "Not my will but thine be done."    I heard the court trials where this Man was accused but chose not to defend Himself.  And I heard every word of all of the things that happened to Him physically as he died.

I was forced to feel the pain, not just physically, but emotionally that He endured.  I was face to face with the raw emotion of disciples who betrayed and denied Him and those who were faithful to the end, but then devastated by what they thought was the end.

This week I was in church on Thursday night, and Friday noon, and Friday night and on those days over and over again I was reminded of the price paid for me.

Yesterday we gathered together one more time.  But this time it wasn't to talk about pain, betrayal, denial, suffering or death.  It was to celebrate the One who conquered death itself.  I must say that celebrating resurrection when you truly walk with Jesus through the torture of the week is much more meaningful.   I could barely choke out the words, "He is risen indeed" because of tears as I recalled not just the glorious thought of the resurrection, but the powerful pain of the week before.

Aren't we like that as humans?  We love to skip the middle.  We want to go from mountaintop to mountain top and never pass through the valleys.   But Jesus invites us to share in it all.  In Romans 8:17 it says,
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory."
The next time you enter a difficult period of your life I invite you to experience the middle.  Seek for what you can learn during the hard times.  Embrace, if you will, the pain, the betrayal, the suffering, because you know that if you share in His suffering, you will share in His glory.

And when you rise again, which you will, the victory will be sweeter, deeper, and more profound than if you try to avoid what leads up to it.

He is Risen!

And so will you.


No comments: