Come Join the Journey!

One Minister’s Musing

Holy Week, 2011

We gather during Holy Week as God’s blessed people, ready for a journey that’s central to our faith. Generation upon generation has affirmed this walk with Jesus into Jerusalem, through the passion, up the hill to Golgotha, into the silence of the tomb and then, life, new life on the other side.

It is a journey that we do together as God’s holy people to remember God. For it is a journey about God. It is a journey about God who joins the world, not for the sake of God’s self, but for the sake of the creation that God loved into being and continues to love with profound compassion. It’s a journey with Jesus, who reveals God who chooses to be humbled for us as Immanuel, God-with-us.

It is a curious journey. It begins with the infant Jesus and continues as Jesus reveals the glory of God in performing great miracles, healings, and forgiveness of sins into a world of suffering. The followers of Jesus had known great oppression under Rome. They had experienced great isolation under division. They had known great judgment under harsh rules and demands for obedience. Jesus walked into the midst of this world as Immanuel, God-with-us. Jesus ate with the outsiders, gathered people together into connectedness, and invited loving instead of rules.  The followers walked with Jesus into the reign of God, rule of love on earth.

And then Jesus walked into Jerusalem. Crowds joined the walk. They walked into Jerusalem the center of power wanting a new king, a king with power to conquer the oppression, to end the isolation, to free them from the harsh rules and demands. They walked with Jesus, shouting boldly,   “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”  They walked expecting the power of a king.

And then the walk takes a surprising turn. These followers called Jesus, “Lord.” Yet, this was a great affront to this political power of the day, for only the ruler of Rome was to be known as Lord. Now, the political power joined the walk and took control of the journey, turning it with power into pain, using power for betrayal, challenge, judgment, isolation, and conquering with power for their own control.

Yet Jesus Immanuel God-with-us, humbles himself and lets go of the power. What a surprise for those on the journey with Jesus! For they wanted power to win, as they lifted palm branches and shouted words of hosanna.

What a surprising walk! For God, revealed in Jesus, is NOT about power, but about love. For Jesus, Immanuel, God-with-us, joined the pain, betrayal, challenge, judgment, and isolation of the world. Immanuel relinquishes power for the greater love of compassion. The journey of Jesus reveals a God of compassion for the world, not power over the world. Jesus Christ is at-one-with passion. Jesus is at-one-with suffering.

Immanuel walks straight through power into passion. We walk through Maundy Thursday remembering the actions of Jesus’ servant with us, the washing of feet, loving in sharing food.  On Good Friday, we walk and remember the actions of betrayal and judgment as Jesus suffers and dies at the hands of power. And we walk, remembering the tomb of Holy Saturday, waiting, and wondering, “Does power win?”

We walk from singing praise into weeping and waiting, trusting God to shift the journey yet again. We dare walk this journey into the world with God, for God walks with us. We dare walk, watch, and wait with God into the suffering caused by power, knowing, trusting, and believing that power does not win. For in Immanuel, God with us, love wins. Compassion – walking with passion – is greater than power. What an amazing journey!

Blessings on your journeys this holy week.

Pr. Elaine