"God so loved the world that he gave his only son - even to the obscene horror that is the cross.” - Frederick Buechner
The days of Holy Week that precede Easter don't match the usual qualifications of events one usually considers worth celebrating. These days are the ones Christians remember Jesus; God in human form – who came to announce good news to the poor, liberation for the oppressed, sight for the blind, and life to the lifeless - was executed by the powers-that-be.
Maundy Thursday is a day that saw the betrayal of a close friend and false arrest by scheming religious authorities who controlled the Temple that Jesus called his "father's house."
Good Friday is a day of pain; a day of thorns and cross and wood - a day of betrayal and abandonment by friends and the casual cruelty of violence. It is a day when love was put to death - when the evil and powerful seemed to have the last word.
Holy Saturday is a day of fear, uncertainty, and dwelling in the "place of death."
These stories of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are endurable each year because we already know how the story ends - we already know that Easter is coming soon.
But what if we - like the people that we read about in these stories - didn’t know that? What if we were experiencing it in real time for the first time?
What if the pain and suffering we witnessed caught us by surprise and shook us to our very core? What if we were confused by what was happening and felt devastated when our expectations and hopes being dashed? What if someone we loved dearly was suddenly and brutally taken from us?
Wouldn't it feel exactly like “real life” itself does sometimes?
This year, try imagining that you're witnessing these stories taking place right as they're unfolding, even though you've likely heard the hundreds of times. You might be surprised at what you realize, feel, and encounter.