On this day Christians across the world are using a greeting that began over two thousand years ago – greeting each other with the words “He is Risen” and responding in turn: “He is Risen Indeed!” They are words that I have heard since I was a child, and in my faith tradition they are words of Hope.
My oldest brother, Edward Brown, wrote an Easter blog post earlier in the week and it resonated deeply with my soul. He has allowed me to re-post so I am sending you over to his blog today. Enjoy and make sure to take a look around his blog.
It is the start of Holy Week. Christians of whatever label take time this week to remember and celebrate events that are at the heart of our faith: A coronation march into an ancient city. A sham trial. A barbaric execution. An unexpected finale with earthquakes, empty tombs, and wild rumors. And finally, a dead man come to life. Euphoria, despair, confusion, victory – all in one short week.
This up and down cycle of Holy Week is a pretty good metaphor for life. Whether it is our own small lives or the grand drama of human history through the ages, we experience the same wild swings from giddy joy to awful despair, with a lot of waiting time sprinkled throughout. This is a picture of how God works in our histories, small and large, to bring us to an end that he sees and has ordained from the beginning.
We know how it ends before we begin
That last phrase is where we have to begin: The end has been planned from the beginning. As Jesus went through the cycle from the exuberance of the Triumphal Entry (Palm Sunday) to the sorrow of the Last Supper to the humiliation of his trial and the agony of the cross, he knew that that he was participating in a drama whose end had already been written. There was pain. There was shame. But there was no uncertainty. He knew how it would end.
John makes this clear in his introduction to the events of the Last Supper:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end… Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper… [John 13:1,3-4]
Jesus’ whole-hearted embrace of events that had been laid out for him from the beginning of time reminds me of Psalm 44:4 where we are told that God “decrees victories” for his people. What a great thought: We don’t have to earn our victories! God has decreed that we will win. If this was true of Jesus, and of the ancient people of Israel, it is also true of us in our day. Whatever today feels like, God has already decreed that there will be a victory. It almost feels like cheating – like starting your first game in the NCAA tournament knowing that strings have been pulled and you have been guaranteed the crown.
Not what we expect.
But the victory that God has decreed is not like winning a tournament. It may in fact be a ‘win’ that looks and feels like a defeat……Read more here!
Ed Brown is the Executive Director of Care of Creation, an organization whose mission is “to pursue a God-centered response to the environmental challenges that brings glory to the Creator, advances the cause of Christ, and leads to the transformation of the people and the land that sustains them.” In this role he travels extensively both nationally and internationally, leading seminars and speaking on the topic of caring for God’s creation. He is the author of Our Father’s World, Mobilizing the Church to Care for Creation and a second book that was just released, When Heaven & Nature Sing:Exploring God’s Goals for People and His World published by Doorlight Publications.
- Muslims Ask What Does Holy Week Mean for Christians? (mark-cannon.com)