It was Prime Minister Harold Wilson, I think, who said: 'A week is a long time in politics.'' Well, what Christians annually observe as Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday and continuing through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to Easter Day, is not so much
'a long time' as the whole of time compressed into just eight days: it's the hinge of history on which the dramatic story of creation and redemption turns, enacted in time and yet originating from before and beyond time to all eternity.
There are three key words which might help to guide us through Holy week :
Palm Sunday - it was
Hosanna: Good Friday it's
Crucify and Easter Day -
But popularity is precariously short lived as it was for Jesus, and crowds are notoriously fickle, because just five days later virtually the same crowd who had shouted Hosanna, shouted Crucify. But Easter day is quite another matter: then it's just a small bunch of very ordinary men and women - mainly women - who catch on to the reality of it all, namely that neither death nor the tomb have the last word. However dark that Friday which we paradoxically call Good Friday was, nevertheless we now know with hind-sight, for those with eyes to see, that 'light shines and the darkness, and the darkness has not' and never will 'overcome it'. (John 1: 5) 'So don't come 'looking for the living among the dead, he is not here: he is risen,' said the angel to the terrified women at the tomb that first Easter morning. (Luke 24: 6)
We live at a dark time in history with much foreboding of what is yet to come on the earth. But Christians who have walked the way of the Cross of Christ solidly from Palm Sunday to Easter Day, through the darkness to the light, begin to perceive the world from a very different perspective; through the lenses of hope - the perspective of that new life that always comes out of death; new hope issuing out of despair. As Roger Schultz said: 'Christians are a resurrection people and alleluia is our song.''
And once you begin to see the whole world from the perspective of the Easter event and the resurrection to abundant eternal live, not just once upon a time but for all time, then despair, fear and defeat could never again have the last word.
As C. S. Lewis wrote: 'I believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in the same way that I believe the sun rose this morning: not only because I can see it, but now because I see everything else in the light of it.' So yes, indeed the last word is neither 'Hosanna', or 'Crucify' but Alleluia in time and for eternity.
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!
Bishop Michael Marshall