Sometimes life seems like an endless roller coaster ride, complete with sudden, extreme turns, unpredictable vertical drops, and slow ascents which only send us once again on another go-around.
Our Scripture accounts of Holy Week mirror such a roller coaster ride. Imagine yourself with Jesus as one of his disciples. First, there’s Palm Sunday, with all its excitement and songs of Hosanna; people are actually happy to see Jesus and receive him as the kind of dignitary or liberator they imagine. However, all too soon, the hosannas fade. Uncertainty creeps in, followed by fear and doubt, as Jesus shares a solemn meal with them and shows them how to love and serve one another, but is betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and rejected by a mob that only days before had sung him praises. “Hosanna” has turned into “Crucify Him,” and we find ourselves at the foot of the cross as Jesus dies, and all the hope and excitement the disciples experienced at the beginning of the week dies along with Jesus and is replaced by sadness, fear, and doubt. As Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb, the disciples struggle to make sense of it all.
We find ourselves today caught in the throes of a world in turmoil. In our daily lives, we find ourselves caught up with the crowd. Our lips sing “Hosanna” one day, and shout “Crucify” the next. We fear the twists and turns. We suffer from uncertainty, and react as suddenly and violently as the roller coaster that throws us about.
But, the Paschal mystery does not end with Jesus’ passion and our uncertainty. Jesus doesn’t stay dead. The horrible roller coaster ride of Holy Week comes to an end. The angel announces to Mary: “He is Risen! Just as He said.” The new week which begins that Easter Sunday morning brings new life and a peace that defies understanding or explanation. The Prince of Peace whose birth we celebrated at Christmas has now completed his mission, reconciling us to God and ushering in perfect peace and wholeness to his creation. Because Jesus lives, we live also.
While the unpredictable ups and downs, sharp curves, and fearful vertical drops of life still confront us, they now cannot overtake us. The endless roller coaster ride is replaced by Christ’s endless victory over sin, death, evil, and all that would harm or destroy us. It is a victory over the unpredictability of life. The risen Christ destroys the uncertainty of sin and suffering. Just as the events of Holy Week didn’t end with Good Friday or a tomb, so God neither leaves us in our Good Friday experiences, nor abandons us to languish in the dark tombs of life. We are Easter people, the people of the resurrection and empty tomb. We are people of certain life. Jesus’ victory is our victory. Jesus’ resurrection is our resurrection and new life.
May this good news uphold you and renew your spirits in the coming weeks of this holy season; and, may you find assurance, comfort, and joy in the promise of resurrection and new life which comes from Christ. As the Easter hymn proclaims: “Jesus is risen and we shall arise. Give God the glory! Alleluia!” (ELW 377).