Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Holy Week.

Christians fight like cats and dogs over such things as whether women and gays should be ordained, whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, whether or not the Bible should be taken literally, and how these last days will play out.

A Christian comedian once quipped that the mighty army of God shod in the preparation of the Gospel, loins encircled in the girdle of truth, armored with the shield of faith, the. breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, and wielding the sword of the Spirit spends the vast majority of its time polishing its armor or fighting amongst themselves. And. to see this spectacle in action, one wonders how the Christian church manages to get any converts.

But if there is one thing that does unite the fundamentalists, the evangelicals, the charismatics and their cousins, the pentecostals, and the liberal mainliners is the events that will happen over the next four days: the meat of Holy Week.

Last Sunday the church celebrated Jesus's triumphal return into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. No motorcades with heat packing Secert Service agents talking into their collars did Jesus have. It was just him and maybe his disciples bringing up the rear. The crowds who heard of the exploits of the humble carpenter's son from Nazareth, or who saw or experienced the miraculous things he did lined the streets cheering the name of Jesus strewing their clothing and palm branches befor him, crying out "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!!". What a day of rejoicing that was. Only one knew that in 4 days that same crowd that praised him would turn their backs on him and demand the release of a murderer instead of the innocent Son of God.

Maundy Thursday, the church recalls what would be Jesus' last night of freedom with his disciples. The shared Passover meal. Jesus' command to take up the bread of his body, and the wine of his blood in rememberance of him. The revealing of the betrayer, who would sell out his master for 30 pieces of silver. The bold statement of his beloved disciple Peter who swore that he would never deny Jesus, but would fail miserably a few hours later. The night spent in the garden of Gethsamane, when Jesus shows his humanity wishing and praying to his Father that what was to come could be avoided, not once, not twice, but three times. His disappointment at his disciples who could not stay awake to give him support in this crucial hour, and when the betrayer comes with soldiers and hired muscle to arrest Jesus, those same disciples ran off and left Jesus on his own. Later that night, the kangaroo court that trumped up false charges against the Christ, a parade of witness telling conflicting stories, but no one spoke in his defense. In any other court, this sham would have been thrown out.

Pilate could not even find fault with the man, but in caving to public pressure hands him over to be executed, but not before the Roman soldiers had some cruel, brutal fun at Jesus expense. The mocking, the spitting, the crown of thrones, the 40 lashes with the scourge. The blood that was spilt. And through it all, Jesus never said a 'mumbalin word!

Good Friday. Jesus dragged out of his cell, a heavy wooden cross strapped to his back. The humiliation of the condemned carrying the instrument of his execution. The people who before were shouting for the Savior now drunken in bloodlust. Jesus falls once, then twice. A Cyrenian named Simon was forced to carry that foul cross. And finally to Skull Hill. Golgotha. Clothes ripped off, body thrown down onto the cross. Spikes hammered into his hands and feet shattering bone, tearing muscle, inhuman pain. The cross put into the ground, and Jesus hangs between heaven and earth. Soldiers toss dice for his clothes. The people mock him exhorting him to come down off the cross. But he forgives them, for they don't know what they are doing. Jesus hangs on the cross enduring the pain, the betrayal, and the turning of his own Father's back on him for 9 hours. Yet he forestalls death long enough to welcome a dying repentant thief into the Eternal Kingdom. But that was what Jesus was all about. He was never too busy to help another. Then comes to the time where the Father is now ready to take his son into His bosom. "Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit, IT IS FINISHED!!!".
His broken body is placed in a borrowed tomb, door sealed shut with a heavy stone. His disciples devasted, and defeated. The Pharisees and their conspirators gloating that they finally rid themselves of that meddlesome Jesus.

Resurrection Sunday. The sun rises over the Eastern horizon. The two Marys hurry to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, not knowing what they'd find. They get there and see the tombstone rolled away and an angel sitting on it. The guards sent to secure the tomb passed out on the ground. "Are you looking for Jesus of Nazareth?" the angel inquires. "He's not here, He has risen! Go and see where your Lord lay! The women are dumbstruck to see that the angel was speaking the truth. Jesus was not there. Did the disciples steal the body? What treachery is this? The women go away, wondering what has happened, when before their eyes stood Jesus Christ whole in body and form. He is Risen just as he said!!!

We Christians may beat the crap out of each other over small stuff, but at least we agree on this. The Scribbler wishes all of you who read these words God's richest Blessings during Holy Week and the Easter Season.

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