Holy Week

This Holy Week is really nothing special; it’s just space between Sundays, right? There’s the buying of Easter dresses and suits; there are Easter eggs to dye and the Easter feast to plan. To me that isn’t Holy Week.

I have been reading more poetry lately and have discovered Ann Weems. Her poem, Between Parades, expresses the human condition well … too well.

“We’re good at planning!
Give us a task force
and a project
and we’re off and running!
No trouble at all!
Going to the village and finding the colt,
even negotiating with the owners
is right down our alley.
And how we love a parade!
In a frenzy of celebration
we gladly focus on Jesus
and generously throw our coats
and palms in his path.
And we can shout praise
loudly enough
to make the Pharisees complain.
It’s all so good!
It’s between parades that
we don’t do so well.
From Sunday to Sunday
we forget our hosannas.
Between parades
the stones will have to shout
because we don’t.”
(Ann Weems, Kneeling in Jerusalem, p. 69)

I find Holy Week to be so lonely. The rest of the world seems to be fine and yet I’m stewing in guilt because of our complicity in suffering and death. It’s not just Jesus. We can’t kill God. We can’t kill love.. even though some seem to be subverting and perverting it by sexualizing our children and others who would enslave a child as a sex worker. All the suffering we inflict on one another can be SO overwhelming, so despairing.

And yet. This won’t be the end of God’s story! While part of me wants to quickly move to Easter morning like most of the world has already, I wonder if we don’t owe it to God to stay with the suffering. At least stay with it long enough to be driven toward justice. To be driven to take action on behalf of someone who is hurting; someone we don’t know or know about or want to know about who is hurting so much they don’t want to anymore.

I wonder. What would it be like to consider that we have the power and the resources to save lives? Not the kind of power that can buy a life-saver, throw it to a victim and feel good about it. No. The kind of power that only love can deliver. The power of a smile to melt anxiety. The power of a handshake to welcome a stranger to their new home. The power of safety or sanctuary to someone in fear of being deported or detained and separated for-who-knows-how-long from their children.

As we contemplate all that Lent has been for us, let us consider spending less time at the parade and more time in the street.

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