For many Christian communities in this Empire called the United States, Holy Week has been largely commercialized, commodified and sanitized. Profound themes present in Holy Week of state violence, murder without recourse of marginalized individuals and communities, and the subverting of oppression through revolutionary acts have been diluted for the comfort of the masses and the maintenance of power. Continue Reading..
Have you ever repeatedly uttered a word until it just became a meaningless sound? Try it for one minute. Love, love, love, love, love, love, … At most, you’re left with a familiar, comforting noise. We often fail to notice what is familiar. The fish don’t see the water or understand its significance–if that expression isn’t itself too familiar to make the point.
It is Holy Week. The week we recall Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. His final week with his disciples. His actions in the temple. His perplexing parables. His final meal. His agonizing last hours. The uncertainty of Saturday. The joy of Sunday morning.
It is a week of central significance to anyone claiming to be, or aspiring to be, a disciple of Jesus. One of my favorite weeks as a pastor. Also one of the busiest. Continue Reading..
Holy Week begins this Sunday. It is a familiar week, beginning with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. But maybe so familiar that we still aren’t quite hearing the full story.
Marcus Borg reminds us that there was not one, but two processions entering Jerusalem that year. Two very different processions. “They proclaimed two very different and contrasting visions of how this world can and should be: the kingdom of God versus the kingdoms, the powers, of this world. The former is about justice and the end of violence. The latter are about domination and exploitation. On Friday, the rulers of this world kill Jesus. On Easter, God says “yes” to Jesus and “no” to the powers that executed him.
Thus Palm Sunday announces the central conflict of Holy Week. The conflict persists. That conflict continues wherever injustice and violence abound. Holy Week is not about less than that.”
In the spirit of the One who came in peace, and in the wake of this week’s continued violence in our world, a prayer for peace. May it bless you this week.
Great God, who has told us “Vengeance is mine,” save us from ourselves, save us from the vengeance in our hearts and the acid in our souls. Save us from our desire to hurt as we have been hurt, to punish as we have been punished, to terrorize as we have been terrorized. Give us the strength it takes to listen rather than to judge, to trust rather than to fear, to try again and again to make peace even when peace eludes us. We ask, O God, for the grace to be our best selves. We ask for the vision to be builders of the human community rather than its destroyers. We ask for the humility as a people to understand the fears and hopes of other peoples. We ask for the love it takes to bequeath to the children of the world to come more than the failures of our own making. We ask for the heart it takes to care for all the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, of Palestine and Israel as well as for ourselves. Give us the depth of soul, O God, to constrain our might, to resist the temptations of power to refuse to attack the attackable, to understand that vengeance begets violence, and to bring peace–not war–wherever we go. For You, O God, have been merciful to us. For You, O God, have been patient with us. For You, O God, have been gracious to us. And so may we be merciful and patient and gracious and trusting with these others whom you also love. This we ask through Jesus, the one without vengeance in his heart. This we ask forever and ever. Amen —A Prayer for World Peace,
by Sister Joan Chittister, of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie (source)
Guest post by Chris Lubbers, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Muskegon Community College
Reflections on Good Friday
I remember being puzzled as a child in church—one of many times—about why the day on which Jesus was crucified was called “Good Friday.” What was good about that? It seemed pretty awful.
I was told that what was good was that Jesus died for our sins, thus saving us from the punishment of death. But everyone still sins, and everyone still dies.
Later I was told that saving us from death was a metaphor for saving us from the eternal torment known as hell, which was not a metaphor. Some people still went to hell, though, because they didn’t believe in Jesus. Whatever that meant.
Have you ever tried to just believe something that you didn’t already believe? Good luck.
Eventually, I was told that it didn’t really matter what we did. God chose from before the creation who would go to heaven and who would go to hell. Problem solved?
Studying Biblical scholarship, church history, theology, ethics and philosophy of religion offered me the opportunity to learn far more subtle, complex, nuanced and technical answers to these simple questions I had raised. But I found them all lacking.
So, why am I writing about Good Friday, when I don’t believe in Easter?
Because, even though I don’t think there are any such things as gods or places like heaven and hell, I still believe in Good Friday. I believe that Jesus was crucified by a powerful and corrupt empire, with the help of the religious leadership, whose authority Jesus questioned on a regular basis, sometimes violently.
Little has changed in two thousand years. Those in power still seek to destroy those who question their authority.
Every once in a while, though, someone comes along and reminds us that some things are worth dying for. They inspire us to do what is right and let the shameful injustice of those in power reveal itself to everyone.
I think today of all those girls, boys, women and men who have suffered and died for our sins.
TRAVERSE CITY (AP) – Surrounded by some new art, and sitting beneath a sign that designated the space as purgatory, about fifteen people of various lineage gathered at the Pub during Holy Week, or more precisely, on Maundy Thursday.
What exactly is Maundy Thursday?
Great question – but they weren’t there to answer that. (Though it’s apparently also known as the Thursday of Mysteries.)
Some wonderful brews on tap, not least of which was the Darkstar Stout flowing from the cask. (You can never go wrong with the cask).
First topic:What is your earliest memory?
There were several good ones. Here’s a taste:
– “I remember being spoonfed a sundae by my mother at Dairy Queen while sitting in the stroller…”
– “There was an old barn across from the apartment complex we lived in. I remember distinctly sitting on the hill by our apartment, watching a large barn across the street burn to the ground. I was three.”
– “Something about being on the stairs, and my sister wasn’t around yet, which makes it about the only memory I have from then.”
– Mine: “I was probably four, in the basement with a friend. My mom was doing the laundry in the room next to us. We were throwing plastic bowling pins up at the naked lightbulb. Eventually we managed to hit it – throwing glass and darkness all over us. There were screams.”
– “My earliest memory is of my older brother having his dirty diaper changed, which means I must have been about six months old. Wait… that can’t be right.”
– The best one: “I have no particular memory of my early years. Just some vague feelings.”
There was general debate about when the earliest you can remember is… Some said three, others said four. One claimed to have a memory from much earlier.
I noted that my kids watch videos of themselves from when they were babies and toddlers, and we all sort of wondered about what that would do to their memories as they grow up. (I make a year-end video of the kids every December – Lubbergho. Perhaps I’ll post one on youtube one of these days).
It was a great opening conversation, and we went various places from there, hitting on a few of these topics:
1. Have you ever felt truly alone?
Describe the situation. What did you do?
Are there practices that help you in those moments?
2. What is your favorite day of Holy Week?
Do you connect more with Good Friday or Easter?
3. What do you believe happened on the cross?
4. “To believe in the gospel in today’s day and age, one must first understand that language does not only denote objective realities.”
5. Does all knowledge derive from experience?
6. Do atheists get respect in our culture? Why/Why not?
We wrapped up the evening by musing on the following poem:
I am afraid
The gulf between us is vast
As all eternity
The frozen hand of death
Touches my throat
Catching my words unspoken
Alone we die
Together we live
Reach out now
Help me live
In love together
We cannot die
If you have a thought on the above, or an earliest memory you’d like to share, post it below!