Wednesday, April 16, 2014

     

The Blessing of Holy Week                                  

 

1 Corinthians 1:18-31             
 

There is a Franciscan blessing that goes like this:

 

May God bless us with discomfort -

                at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,

                 so that we may live deeply and from the heart.

May God bless us with anger

                at injustice, oppression, and the exploitation of peoples,

                             so that we might work for

                                            justice, freedom, and peace."

May God bless us with tears to shed - with those who mourn,

   so that we might reach out our hand in comfort

                 as they journey from pain to joy.

May God bless us with just enough foolishness

   to believe that we can make a difference in this ol' world,

                 so that we will go and do those things that others say cannot be done.

 

In many ways, the blessing evokes the experience of Holy Week.

   

Holy Week comes with more than its share of discomfort. It begins with the uncomfortable irony of a triumphal procession that leads toward Gethsemane and a crown of thorns. Along the way, the Pharisees grill Jesus with uncomfortable questions. Jesus refuses to give easy answers. Instead, he lays bare and confounds their half-truths and their superficial faith. And, as the week draws to a close, Jesus gathers his friends at an uncomfortable table where he sups with those who will betray and abandon him

 

Holy Week comes with its share of anger. In three of the gospels, Jesus begins the week striding into Jerusalem and turning over the tables of those selling in the temple area. We witness the anger of the imperial and religious authorities at a Jesus they cannot stop. And then, there is the anger of a mob, unleashed. And in one gospel, Jesus cries out from the cross, as if in anger at death itself.

 

Holy Week comes with its share of tears. Jesus looks out over the city and weeps over it, "If you had only known what would bring you peace." In Gethsemane Jesus prays in anguish, and from the cross he cries out in agony. And in the quiet moments after it is finished, there must have been tears as the women who stayed with Jesus help Joseph of Arimathea take the body down, and wrap it - in tears and a linen cloth - for burial.

 

And at the heart of Holy Week, there is the foolishness of the cross - the power and the wisdom of God - foolishness to the world. The Apostle Paul describes it like this: We preach Christ crucified - a stumbling block to those who demand signs, and foolishness to those who look for wisdom - but to all those whom God has called - Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

 

The experience of Holy Week calls us into the foolish wisdom of God and into the strength of God's powerful weakness - embodied in the Christ. The experience of Holy Week confronts our half-truths and calls us to live deeply and from the heart. The experience of Holy Week calls us - through anger and tears - into justice, freedom, and peace, and a journey from pain to joy. And most of all, the experience of Holy Week calls us into life, life lived with foolish abandon for God, so that we - the body of Christ - might bless the world God loves in ways we once thought impossible. 
         

Rev. Scott Clark    

SFTS Chaplain and Associate Dean of Student Life