Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Sunday of Holy Week
March 29, 2015
“But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, NRSV)
As a matter of fact, I was in darkness when I woke up. I wanted to get an early start on setting up my puppet show for the church Easter Egg hunt. So it was still dark when I first looked out the window … and then I saw it … a world covered in white. I was surprised … I smiled at the beauty of it … my day was suddenly better. Yes, I heard the previous night’s weather report announce a chance of flurries. But I never expected a ground cover of white. It was 67 degrees on Thursday. I was sure we were done with snow. In spite of that, I could not help but smile at the early morning beauty. And while I was personally sad to see it melt so quickly, I was happy for our kiddos at the Egg Hunt, that they didn’t get frostbite finding their eggs.
Yes, I do recognize that the “surprise” to which St. Paul refers is of a far greater magnitude than a little gift of snow on the ground. But as children of our loving Father God, is it not our proclamation that the end of the faith story reaches back and makes the present human experience a far more joyful journey? Our Eucharistic language of a “foretaste of the feast to come” promises us that the gifts of the Kingdom are not simply future treats that await those of God’s children who behave well. They are living and timeless promises, whose potency makes them accessible to us in the here and now. If the created order is part of God’s plan for the redemption of the world, as we are assured it is in the Bible, then why can’t my morning blessing be a small gift from that ultimate and eternal surprise?
The week ahead of us can be a challenging one. If we have the courage to engage the fullness of the Holy Week narrative, then we choose to stand nose to nose with the very worst parts of human nature … those evils and sins and weaknesses that lead us to acts of betrayal, deceit, falsehood and murder. The rich blessing of engaging this horrific week as a Christian, is that we know the end of the story. So we are gifted to stand as close to the precipice as we wish, knowing that God will not allow us to fall into it unto our deaths. And it is the inbreakings of the Kingdom God places in front of us … these foretastes of the feast to come … which are the rations for our journey, and the very things that protect us from that precipice.
So, before the week starts to get really ugly, while we’re only coping with some harsh stories from Jesus and the cleansing of the Temple … yes, before Thursday arrives , open your eyes to the world around you, and find those places where God surprises you with … amazes you with moments of grace, and astonishes you with experiences of love. They are the sustenance hat will bring you through to the other side of the tomb.
Lord Jesus Christ, in this sacred and solemn week when we see again the depth and mystery of your redeeming love, help us to follow where you go, to stop where you stumble, to listen when you cry, to hurt as you suffer, to bow our heads in sorrow as you die, so that, when you are raised to life again, we may share in your endless joy. Amen.
~~Holy Week Prayer, from the Religious Sisters of Charity website