“Hope springs eternal…” writes poet, Alexander Pope. Most of us living in the Midwest celebrate the coming of spring with smiles and anticipation of warmer days, and the return of greening vegetation and the budding trees and flowers after a cold, desolate landscape of ice and snow. It is wonderful to have spring coincide with the coming of Easter.
However, this IS Holy Week…a time in the Christian calendar when we prepare to remember and travel the days of Christ’s untimely death, suffering and crucifixion.
But, when I read the texts of today’s scriptures, there IS hope permeating the day’s readings. Initially, this can be puzzling, as we approach the Triduum. Why these readings today?
In the passage from Isaiah God announces that God’s servant shall bring forth justice, yet not breaking a bruised reed or quenching a smoldering wick and that the people have a covenant with God to open the eyes of the blind, and to free captives from prison. As Christians we believe that this servant is Jesus who, in today’s gospel is anointed by Lazarus’ sister, Mary and is sought by the crowds.
These are passages of hope, of anticipation of the wonders that God has brought to us in the person, Jesus. Jesus’ friends and followers are in awe of Lazarus’ raising from the dead…and wonder at what/who this Jesus is, and what is coming next.
What are these scriptures calling me to today…in Holy Week? Yes, I know that in a few days, we, as church, remember the death and crucifixion of Jesus…and so, I read these passages with a ‘knowing’ dread. However, fear is not the tone of these readings. There is a pervasive hope and expectation…an anticipation of what God has in store for/with us.
It is the same kind of hope/anticipation that we hold in the changes of the season, or of a healing relationship, or the coming of a new baby. We trust that it will come, but we must patiently wait…and we are not in charge of its arrival.
It is the promise of a God who loves us and wants fullness of life for/with us. It is a stance of trust, openness and belief in this loving God’s embrace.
And yet, also knowing that with free will, we can reject the promise, the trust, the love…with one another and/or with God - (as those who plotted against Jesus) - and spoil (short circuit?) the fulfillment of life-giving love.
What are we /what am I doing/being this Holy Week to approach God’s loving embrace with a trusting anticipation….a willingness to respond and cooperate with my gifts, but also to allow God to work in my life without my needing to be in full control of the outcome?
Lent, and more so, Holy Week, is a time to step back and allow God to speak…to be with us. As the psalmist prays today: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of God. Wait for God; be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for God!”
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