I am tired. I cannot think straight and I am finding it hard to understand your love for me right now.
But your love is all I can think about.
This morning, I am remembering how in years past I’ve spent this Holy Week feeling the heaviness of your suffering, the sadness of your death.
But not this year.
This year, I sit here thinking of your glorious return. Your unfathomable Resurrection.
Your story is such a beautiful one of joy and love and true power over self and the world, how can I feel anything but joy in remembering this story?
This week, you remind me that you are here to serve me (John 13:5), you are willing to give up all for me (Mark 15:37) you are willing to suffer, be beaten, ridiculed and punished unto death, for me (Matthew 27: 1-56). You tell me with each and every action of your life and with love pouring from your Spirit that I am worth it (John 3:16).
How can that be? Who can love me that much? What have I possibly done to deserve that kind of love? Why am I even here, that you should love me so?
You do not answer me with words, only actions. You wash my feet (John 13:5), you give me food (Matthew 26:26), you ask me to sit with you while you pray (Mark 14:32), and then you wait.
You wait for my betrayal.
And sooner than later, my humanity wins out. I hold onto the world and all it offers me (30 shekels of silver!) and I betray you with a kiss (Mark 14:45-46). Or, at the very least I deny you (Mark 14: 66-72).
And you are taken away (Luke 22:54).
Separated from you, I am without hope. What have I done? I wonder and worry while you are sentenced to death. Even as I don’t want it to happen, I know I will not speak up, will not defend you. I comfort myself with my sinful reasoning that “at least I’m not joining the throngs of people chanting for your death.”
But I can’t prevent your dying.
Even if I could, you wouldn’t let me.
Because death (yours and mine) is necessary.
And here’s where I’m confused—how can that be true? Why did we have to kill and betray you? Why did you let it happen?
Your answer comes again not in words, but in actions. You offer yourself up and stretch out your arms in love—and as a reminder to me– you have them nailed open.
Always, always, always I will love you, this says to me(Ps 100:5). And you pour out your Spirit of life into me (John 19:30).
As I sit stunned at the horror of your death, your words echo in my heart…
“Follow me,” you said. (Matt 8:22, Mark 1:17, Luke 9:23, John 21:19)
And I try. Though I am so much more human than you, I do try.
I try to serve others.
I try to feed the hungry.
Then I experience suffering, and betrayal and rejection in my life and I wonder and worry and blame you for punishing me for my goodness!
And you wait and you watch, wondering what will I do? Will I follow you?
But in my humanity, I become afraid and angry and I demand better. I do what you never did: I resist.
This is where the mind boggles and buckles, as the ego tempts…am I really to follow you all the way? Am I to give in now? Give up? Lose?
Then I think of the times you could have been killed, but you slipped away (Luke 4:24-30, John 10:39-42).
And I see now that your death has opened the door for me to slip away, too (1 Cor 10:13). In your forgiveness and mercy you give me another chance to try again, to serve more, to share more, to forgive more…until I, too, can finally let go of this world for the next one (Luke 23:46).
Again and again, bit by bit, ever so slowly, I let go (goodbye excuses, goodbye self-loathing, goodbye perfectionism, goodbye ego) and I open my arms to you (hello love, hello forgiveness, hello reality, hello acceptance).
And I ask you to nail me open, too.
Do not let me close my heart to you, nor to others.
And never, please never, let me stand in judgment without mercy.
Nail. Me. Open.
You taught me this. You showed me this. You lived for this.
You died like this.
I live because you loved me into being.
I die because you love me into New Life.
That is the love… that is the joy…that is the hope of Easter.
It is the Paschal Mystery. It is the Mystery of Faith.
It is a Love Story unmatched in history.
A Love Story for the Ages.