PASSION, CROSS, RESURRECTION: a sequence for Easter

INRI

PASSION, CROSS, RESURRECTION:
a sequence for Easter
©Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

Holy Week —

Holy Week — anything but, for Jesus…
A journey from a mountain top
and transfiguration
to a glorious entry into Jerusalem,
to a family-like gathering of
his closest friends,
to betrayal by a kiss from a friend
when he was praying
in a beautiful garden,
to a kangaroo court trial,
to torture,
to having to carry the
very instrument
of his own death,
to being mocked,
more torture,
and finally, mercifully,
after he hangs on a cross for three hours,
death.
There are seven things
that Jesus purportedly
said
as he was dying on the cross
There are, for me,
three that are profound:
“Father forgive them;”
because, that is a model for me
for how I am expected to treat my enemies;
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me;”
because I have said this too,
and because neither of us were actually forsaken.
“Into your hands I commend my spirit;”
because if Jesus speaks for everyone,
and I believe he does,
then Jesus speaks for me,
and if he can trust his spirit to God,
then so can I.
Walk into Holy Week following the
footsteps of Jesus,
knowing you are not only cared for and loved and held
throughout this week, but forever.

# # #

Good Friday — “I Thirst”

So much packed into
Jesus’ statement, “I Thirst.”

Thirsting:
for water
for something on a dry throat
for love, for revenge,
for the next drink,
for spiritual satisfaction,
for hope,
for anything.
I thirst…

Hank Williams sings, “my bucket’s got a hole in it,
cain’t buy no beer.”
I thirst…

The Sons of the Pioneers sing of cool, cool, water,
I thirst…

In Muleskinner Blues, the Fendermen sing, hey,
water-boy bring that buck, buck, bucket down
I thirst…

On trails in California’s Trinity Mountains,
on trails of the high desert mountains of eastern California:
the Southern Warners,
the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada,
I have run out of water —
nauseous, leg cramps,
whole-body shakes,
fear,
then, a small stream…

Once from a small seep filled with cow dung
I greedily filtered my water
and drank my fill.
I thirst.

The rich man: ‘Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy!
Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue.
I thirst…

In chapter 19, verse 28, the writer of John,
tells us that Jesus,
knowing that all things were now accomplished,
that the scripture might be fulfilled, said,
I thirst…

Don’t we all thirst?
I have hiked the canyons around Death Valley.
I have run out of water on the sands of the Anza Borrego desert.
I have heard all the stories of lost desert rats,
raving, craving water, and maddened by a relentless sun.
I thirst…

I walk into Lent with a fashionable
dot of ashes on my forehead
and I struggle out of Lent
smothered in those ashes,
drenched in sweat,
and smeared with
the mud of my own humanity.
I thirst…

And for what do we really thirst?
Is it a bodily aridity within us
that thirsts, or is it our
parched, cracked, paper-thin spirits,
which are the sign of our dehydration,
and our estrangement from the
living waters we so crave?

And, like the sun maddened desert-rats,
do we peer out from the shadowy crevasses of Lent
with sun-burnt, red-rimmed eyes,
at a vast expanse of desert
and long for something to quench our every-present thirst?
And don’t we all long for just a sip of
that ever-flowing relief.
Not the deadly mirage of desert trickery,
but the cool, dewy, moist freshness
of Easter morning?

I thirst for this…

# # #

Easter Morning —

A friend once was asked
by a little boy
what was in the paper bag
she was holding.
She responded by attempting
to tweak his imagination and asked,
“Yes, what could it be?
What could be in here?
What do you imagine
is in it?”
The boy’s mother came quickly
in from the other room saying,
“Nothing!
There is nothing in the bag!
Nothing!”
AND,
when it comes to Easter,
aren’t we all the little boy?
Aren’t we all the Mother?
Easter,
every year: Easter readings, Easter songs,
Easter sermons,
Easter eggs, Easter bonnets,
Easter parades…
Easter meals,
extravagant breaks from the starkness of Lent —
ham, lamb, potato salad,
candy peeps, hot cross buns…
all of which are distractions
while we grapple with the real meaning,
veracity, verity, truth, actuality, possibility
of a physically risen Jesus, or
as a colleague once stated,
“I cannot believe in a resuscitated corpse!”
Easter and April Fools Day
fall on the same day this year.
I find this appropriate,
because there is a foolhardiness
to having faith.
Faith undermines the rational,
modernistic, educated mind
for the very reason that faith
is not any of those things.
Because,
generally speaking,
we are not taught to
understand the power of story,
we miss out
on the incredible magic of metaphor.
We have,
for the most part been raised
to think in terms of
black/white,
either/or,
fact is truth,
that what is not truth is lie,
and we become lost and afraid
in the vastness of allegory and myth.
We grow bereft
in an ocean of doubt,
forever trying to jam the hard, 90°
square edges of the cross
into the hard, 180°
triangular holes
of our Euclidian brains.
Nadia Bolz-Weber states:
“The Christian faith,
while wildly
misrepresented in so much
of the American culture,
is really
about death and resurrection.
It’s about how God
continues to reach
into the graves we dig
for ourselves
and pull us out,
giving us new life in
ways both dramatic and small.”
For me,
this Easter,
I find myself walking a tightrope
of faith strung
over the grave
of my doubt.
I reach out to God,
praying
to be pulled out
and raised once
again for one more Easter—
and praying
that one more time the metaphor
will work…

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