Rev David Nicolson
A Disappointing Week
How is Holy Week for you? I wonder if it is disappointing. I will be honest and express dismay. I like many other ministers had planned a series of services for Holy Week. I put thought, time and energy into the theme and flow of the week. And because of a microscopic virus, all my plans have had to be laid aside. I am writing this, and broadcasting on YouTube, as a weak and poor replacement for our gathering together. I had expectations and hopes. I miss my church family, perhaps more acutely now that it is the most sacred of weeks in our calendar. I hope this gives you permission to feel disappointed with whatever the lockdown has meant for you. Truth be told, I had never viewed Holy Week before through the lens of disappointment. I have been forced to this year, in God's providence. Today I have been praying, and meditating on the scriptures we often consider on Tuesday of Holy Week. Jesus comes to teach at the temple in Jerusalem, to a mixed reaction and audience. Significantly, the religious crowd are deeply skeptical, and continue to challenge his claims. You can read the various accounts in Matthew 21:23–26:5,Mark 11:27–14:2,Luke 20:1–22:2,John 12:37–50.
I saw the significance of these events from a new angle today. Here is Jesus, chosen, from all Eternity, to perform God's rescue mission from His people. Here is Jesus, the full and complete image of the invisible God, come to be with us. Here is Jesus, God Himself come to His people. Do you know what the significance of the temple was in the Old Testament? God dwelling in-the-midst of His people. For a Holy and all consuming God, this was a divinely sanctioned way for people to meet with and approach Him. The one point where Heaven met earth. And yet, the book of Hebrews shows us, it was in comparison only a shadow of the true Glory- the true Light from Heaven. The Light 'was among them' (John 12:37). So on Tuesday of Holy Week, we have a cosmic event. The Light of all creation, and the shadow which went before it, are brought together in space and time, for the privileged people of Jerusalem to behold. How did that go?
Not so great. Jesus laments !
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say,‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Do you think its fair to say Jesus was disappointed? Maybe, this unusual situation we walk through in Holy Week is purposeful. Maybe God, in His infinite wisdom and providence, is showing us the road to the cross is not filled with triumphal shouts of joy. Maybe we get to feel the weight of disappointment, as a pale shadow of what Jesus felt and saw.
Today, God has passed the torch on. The Light is still among us, in the Word, in the Sacraments, and by His Spirit. Maybe we can join Christ in lamenting, that what people long for and need the most, the Light that dispels even the deepest darkness, is not embraced by so many in our nation. And maybe, we could turn that into a prayer of hope. That in our present darkness many would be drawn to the Light and life of Jesus.