Leaning In

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
— Matthew 27:45-46
It was about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. And Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.’ Saying this, he breathed his last.
— Luke 23:44-46
…the last saying in Luke, such a contrast to the cry of abandonment [in Matthew], preserves for the faithful Christian the guarantee that life lived in this tension between utter desolation and faithful trust is not only possible but in fact is the place where we will most certainly find our Lord and Master. We learn from him the right way to position ourselves for the duration of our lives.
— Fleming Rutledge, Three Hours
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From palm branches swinging unabashedly in the air, parading the song of “save us,” we again ask ourselves the question as we remember Christ’s path to the Cross: “who do you say that I am?” It’s Holy Week, today Maundy Thursday, tomorrow Good Friday, Resurrection already but not yet. The necessary rhythm of leaning into these days envelops us into the story of who we are, of what truly defines us as a community marked by death and new life.

I don’t know where you are at today, but personally, I need the liturgy to reeducate me constantly on who Jesus truly is, and in turn, who I am. While the world both literally and figuratively burns, the language of both/and in embracing paradox brings a generous hope to us hurting people.

This week has been full of things lost, things thought deceased, showing signs of breath and growth. As we finally find some footing underneath us, a foundation forged in receiving the labor pains of God with us, bulbs not planted by our hands bear strong sprouts. For the first time in months, I’m able to share honestly that I will not give up on the Church; it is Jesus’ church, and I know He is faithful, even as those in it, myself included, are faithless. My current studies land me in the world of post-exile and prophets, utterly anguishing books—and yet couched even in the land of atrocity and lament lies hope, hope against hope, that according to Claassens, imagines that shalom is still possible even while present circumstances show otherwise. Working side by side with refugee teens and women who have actually experienced what my books and Bible depict bear witness to the depth of the curse that we are eager to have lifted. They are the ones who declare hope, who dream, who expose my tunnel vision for what it is.

Death is part of the story.

There is so much beautiful writing that has been a benefit to the church, and recently, one by Lore Ferguson Wilbert and another by Jonathan Merritt, have been thankfully convicting. (links baby) I look on the site at Golgotha and truly, hear myself among the scoffers, trust easily shattered when I only think of the circumstances I want and the dreams I hope to come true as god instead of One who changes the entire narrative. In fear, I choose to forget who Jesus is, I choose to forget who I am.

Crux probat omnia.

The Cross defines what is easily muddied and blurred, arms stretched out to connect that which wasn’t possible to connect before. There is so much more that deserves to be said about the wonder and horror of the Crucifixion, and how we cannot divorce this Friday from this Sunday. And yet, in the darkness of Holy Saturday, I pray for a faith that believes things can be raised from the dead, while mourning still what feels gone forever.