It’s Lent. There are bombs and shots fired and explosions and people running. There are police and ambulances and politicians and terrorists. Peacemakers, revenge-seekers, mourners. There are the suddenly widowed and the momentarily religious and the newly confused. Lives are carefully constructed, instantly destroyed, and then painstakingly put back together again.
It’s the 21st Century. It’s the 1st Century. It’s Brussels and Manhattan and Beirut and Paris and Damascus. It’s Jerusalem. It’s the news we watch; it’s the news we make. It’s exhausting; it’s exhilarating; it’s deafening.
It’s “Holy Week”. Lent on steroids. It’s Thursday. It’s a time of feasting under the watchful eye of the occupier. It’s families gathering to celebrate the Lamb slain, the dead rising into the thin air of our memory. Holding hands we hold on for dear life to our hope that no one – absolutely no one – lives in vain. We cannot silence the cries of our hearts; there is no comfort in the notion “There but for the grace of God go I …” We ARE there. All of us are in the subway, the skyscraper, the concert hall, the plane, the school, the bistro, the airport. All of life is now a battlefield and we wonder if the sacred books might have it right after all – the fight is against principalities. If there is going to be a victory, it’s going to have to be a win over the devil itself.
The Gospel irony is that life teems in the swamps. Where water sits and leaves decay and wood rots – life is endless there. Maybe that’s where it all began – God playing in the mud, getting down and getting dirty with the primeval stuff made up of molecules and light and darkness and water – lots of water. Water mixed with blood, the red ooze that courses through our veins. We bleed out, left for dead. We are put back in the mud, covered with rocks, entombed in darkness and then – the explosion.
The sharing of life and the determination that love will not be silenced no matter how unjust it all is. We are blood relatives – all of us. The terrorist, the killer, the life-taker – no matter what their skin color or their God-preference – they are one with their victims. The one who cries “Get us down from here” and the one who cries “Jesus, remember me!” – The soldier who pounded in the nails and the mother lost in grief – all are one.
We build our lives – on faith, on knowledge, on hope. And yes … it is entirely possible that someone will come along and destroy it; but just as certain as Good Friday comes around over and over again, so too does Easter.
In a world of poetry we long for narrative. When life is metaphor we yearn for substance. It’s Holy Week. We are the builders and the destroyers both. But the events Christians remember and celebrate this week inspire us to lean more intensely toward the light. Our determination is renewed and our faith is resuscitated – we will confess our penchant for destruction, seek forgiveness from God and each other, and live more intensely than ever before in the light of the Christ.
Jesus, when we are overwhelmed by sadness because of those who would destroy, come and inspire us to build again that which cannot be torn down.