by Christine Sine
Yesterday was Palm Sunday that wonderful exuberant beginning to Holy Week which fills us with anticipation and hope. Yet we are in for a roller coaster ride. This week is the centre of our Christian identity. Yet it tugs our emotions in so many different directions. It begins with hope and expectation then plummets to death and despair only to rise again into resurrection wonder. I have written about this from various perspectives in the past, and found myself rereading these posts and thoughts as I began Holy Week this year.
First I reminded myself of how subversive Jesus’ walk through this week was. It does indeed reveal to us the evidence of God’s power which can topple empires and transform worlds. However, as I plant my garden and wait for the seeds to emerge, I also realize there is another story in Holy Week. It is the story of Jesus’s garden walk From Suffering to Resurrection. Adam and Eve’s story begins in paradise but ends in a place of suffering. Jesus walk reverses that. It begins in Gethsemane – a garden of suffering in pain, passes through death into a new creation, a new garden paradise of flourishing life.
I spent a good bit of time over the weekend designing and reflecting on a special altar for the week, one in which I have woven together themes of life and death – living plants, intertwined with dead branches and kelp still clinging to the rock on which it attached itself in life. there are several crosses on my altar – the most powerful of which is this Celtic cross with Christ surrounded by disciples.
Holy Week begins with a triumphant march, and shouts of Hosanna – help us, save us, set us free but it walks us through a journey in which death and life are intertwined. “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”John 12:24. Without death there can be no life. A seed dies in order to grow and it is fed with black gold, compost made from the death and decay of organic matter. Yet when a seed dies like this it does not produce just one seed but many. God’s pattern of flourishing life begins in death but results in abundance.
It seems to me that for many people Holy Week ends on Good Friday but that is not what we should dwell on. When we plant a seed, we don’t mourn and wail, we wait in joyful anticipation for the new life to emerge. Death is necessary for life to flourish. It nurtures fresh and vibrant life.
As we walk through Holy Week, I wonder what our eyes are focused on? What are we willing to put to death so that life can flourish in, around and through us. How willing are we to accept the cost of Easter and look beyond the pain and suffering as Christ did so that life can flourish?