I sit in my office at the church, listening to cheerful greetings being extended between the volunteers in the food pantry. They exchange "Happy Easter" with each other and clients who come through the door and share family dinner plans for Sunday. It is beautiful and joyous, and I am cheered even just by hearing the chatter. It is strange to me to think, though, in the timeline of the week, Jesus has not even sat down for that final fateful meal with his disciples. He has not prayed in the garden, been kissed by his betrayer. That all happens tonight. Tomorrow he is rushed to the cross. Yet all this week the cheerful phrase can be heard wherever believers gather together - He is Risen!
We have all heard the story of this week since childhood. Jesus enters into Jerusalem triumphantly to a parade and acclaim from the people, teaches at the temple, frustrates and annoys the chief priests and the teachers of the law to the point they are worried the Roman Empire is going to send in the troops. They make arrangements with Judas for Jesus' arrest. In the meantime, Jesus gathers his disciples for one last meal where he delivers some more hard truths, a few conundrums, but he also invents communion. Perhaps "modifies an existing tradition and gives it new meaning and significance" would be more accurate. But then some bad stuff happens and the story gets pretty dark for a while. But look ahead to Sunday! We know the end of the story, so why not skip ahead to the joy?
This night, this holy night, when Jesus says goodbye for now, is the heart of the story.
In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me...Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. ~John 16:16 & 20
Tonight, tomorrow, Saturday, these are our days to mourn and grieve and think. Jesus died 2000 years ago, but we still sacrifice innocents in the name of the established social, political, economic order. Who have we hung on the cross in our ignorance this day?