We’re entering the holiest of holy days and I want to shout “Be quiet, world! I want to focus! I want to go apart and ponder what the events of these days mean in my life!” But, then it becomes really clear to me that these events occurred amidst the crazy time of Passover in Jerusalem. Crowds, noise, politics, hostility, injustice – it was all right there, too. We aren’t called to hide away, much as that sounds attractive right now – and there is certainly a need for retreat at times – but we are called to engage with the events of the world.
It’s a crazy time in our world right now. We don’t have answers to the questions that are shouted all around us? Why more deaths in Belgium? Why such abrasive and hateful political rhetoric? Why blind eyes for so long to the water crisis in Flint? Why continued racial injustice? Why so much continued oppression of our LGBT brothers and sisters? Why?
What we do have is the knowledge that this isn’t the way it has to be. As followers of Jesus, we can make a difference. In the face of all the questions, we must not remain silent and comfortable. We must go out and share the “hope that is in us” (I Peter 3:15). That is why the work of our resolutions is so very important. Giving life to the words of the resolutions brings hope to those whose lives are touched by them.
Last evening at our Maundy Thursday services, many of us remembered Jesus’ act of servanthood by washing one another’s feet after listening to the story in John’s Gospel. Yes, we are all called into servant ministry. It’s not comfortable. It’s not easy. And it’s not about us! Did you hear the final words of the passage we read? “….‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This is how we each can make a difference. We must love one another – our grumpy neighbor, the refugee, the homeless, those on the margins of society, those that don’t look like us or act like us or believe like us. We must love them all.
So, this morning as I was considering how I might hide away for a little while, I noticed our Presiding Bishop’s Easter message. His words were just what I needed. Maybe you do, too…
I actually love fairy tales and I used to enjoy reading them to our children when they were young and little. Now to be sure those were the more sanitized fairy tales but there was something good about them, a way of confronting what was tough in life with genuine hope. But they were fairy tales.
This week called Holy Week, the remembrance of Jesus entering Jerusalem and offering His life in the ultimate act of sacrificial love. Good Friday, the experience of betrayal, the experience of friends abandoning you, the experience of injustice and wrong, criminal self-centered conspiracies. And then beyond that Holy Week, the resurrection from the dead. This is not a fairy tale.
The truth is even as we speak this Holy Week, we do so not only in the shadow of the cross but we do so in the shadow of those who have been killed in Brussels, of those who have been wounded and maimed, of those who weep and mourn. And of a world mourning, and not too sure how to move forward. And this world does not need another fairy tale. This week’s story of crucifixion and resurrection is not a fairy tale.
Some years ago in the last century George McLeod, the founder of the Iona Community, had fought in the First World War, a war that he came to realize was fought for no good reason. He eventually became ordained, and founded the Iona Community, and at one point he said this about this faith that we hold as followers of Jesus:
I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the centre of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves, on the town garbage dump, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. It was the kind of place where cynics talk smut, thieves curse, soldiers gamble. That’s where he died. And that’s where we as Christians ought to be and what we as Christians ought to be about.
This week called Holy, the season called Easter, the remembrance of death and the realization of resurrection, this is not a fairy tale, but the revelation of ultimate reality. Now the truth is it’s easy to dismiss or discount whether by conscious conviction or by unconscious resignation to dismiss this as naïve, nice, but naïve. It’s easy to dismiss it whether consciously or unconsciously as a great hope, a wonderful ideal, but not realistic in a world like this. Maybe, parts of us I suspect wonder, maybe the strong do survive, maybe might does make right, maybe you better look out for number one. I suspect we all share those feelings once in a while.
But, I have to ask myself a question. It’s not my question, it’s Dr. Phil’s, “How’s that workin’ out for ya?” How’s that workin’ out for the world? The truth is, the way the world very often operates is not working out. It’s not sustainable. It’s not the way to life. Jesus has shown us the way. He has shown us that unselfish, sacrificial love, love of God, and love of the other, is the way to life. That, my friends, is the ultimate reality. And that’s not a fairy tale.
When Jesus was executed, He was tried and convicted of crimes He never committed. He willingly gave His life. Not for Himself, but for others. And in so doing, He showed us what love looks like. That’s what we call the Way of the Cross. And that Way is the way of life and hope. And when He died, His closest followers feared that maybe the strong do survive. Maybe might does make right. And maybe we better look out for number one. ‘Cause maybe the world has won.
But three days later, something happened. Unexpected. Undreamed of. Unheralded. Three days later their world turned upside-down which is right-side up. God raised Him from the dead. And you could almost hear God thundering forth in that resurrection. Love, in the end, love wins! Love is the way! Trust me! Follow me! Believe in me! This resurrection is real! This is not a fairy tale!
So go forth into this world. Don’t be afraid. And don’t be ashamed to be people of love. And go forth into this world and help us to change it from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intends.
A blessed Holy Week, a blessed Easter, and go forth into the world. Amen.
The Most Rev. Michael Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
Here’s the link to the video of Bishop Curry’s message –
Next week, the blog will return with new resolutions for us to consider so stay tuned! As we walk through these holy days, let us together look for ways to love that we might be known as Jesus’ followers, not by our words alone but by our lives lived in service for him.
Let us pray –
Gracious and Loving God, Thank you for your great love for us. Grant us the grace to respond to your love by loving you with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind; and teach us, Lord, to see all our neighbors as you see them, as your beloved children. Grant us the strength to commit to new ways of looking at the world around us. Give us eyes to see, hands to serve, and lives to live for you and your mission for your Church. We ask all this, in the Name of Jesus, because we know you love it when we pray. Amen.
~ The Rev. Deacon Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee