I have been a bit lax in writing lately. I’ve been tired. This time of year can be a bit busy for pastors, and I consider myself to be both Jewish and Unitarian Universalist, so this being both Passover and Holy Week, it’s been very busy.
Of course, according to the Gospels, it was both Passover and Holy Week. Well, they weren’t calling it Holy Week back then. I mean, there was no Christianity yet – Jesus was an upstart Jewish leader who was making trouble. He had a bunch of followers, and they were all Jewish, too. But the events of Holy Week chronicle what they were doing around Passover. They were pretty busy, too. And Jesus was also tired.
Back in Jesus’ time, Jews went to Jerusalem for three important festivals every year, and Passover was one of them. There was only one Temple – there continues to be only one Temple – and it is in Jerusalem. These festivals made the Romans nervous, because they were oppressing the people, and all the people (or lots of them, anyway) were coming to Jerusalem. Passover made them especially nervous, because the Jews were remembering the time they were oppressed as slaves in Egypt. So the Romans sent extra soldiers to Jerusalem. To keep the peace. You understand.
Jesus had to go to Jerusalem. He had to go to Jerusalem because he was a Jew, and he was required to go to celebrate Passover. Now, if this were an Avengers movie – if Jesus were a Marvel action hero, he would not be Black Widow. He would not be Captain America. He would not be Hawkeye. He would not be Thor or Loki. No, these heroes would be likely to sneak into Jerusalem. No, Jesus would be more like Iron Man. “Here’s my address.”
Jesus made a bold move when he went into Jerusalem. He rode in on a donkey, which was how kings traveled. He made a big scene. And the people made a scene with him. He called attention to himself. He was not afraid. OK, actually, he probably was afraid. But he did it anyway. He knew what he was walking into.
Jesus knew that he was going to death on a cross, but the whole time he still had to get to the Temple and celebrate Passover. That just had to be done. Even in extraordinary times, the ordinary things have to happen.
I had a Seder last night. It was also tax day. I had to file an extension. Blessings on my 21-year-old who drove to the post office late last night to drop off my extension. These things still have to be done.
Passover is a time of remembrance and reflection. We remember how we were once slaves and how that calls us to treat others now.
Holy Week is a time of tense anticipation and reflection. We anticipate the discomfort of Good Friday and then, eventually, the joy of Easter.
I like when these two times come together. We opened the door for Elijah the Prophet last night, in recognition that the world is not yet whole. We anticipate the resurrection and remember that, while the promise is here, we live in the already/not yet time of the Kingdom of God. It is our duty, our duty to bring the world out of the darkness of the tomb into the light of Easter. The Kingdom of God awaits if we will only work together to usher it in.
It can be scary. Jesus knew that. He prayed “if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not what I want, but what you want.” (Matt.26:39) How committed are we to bringing in the Kingdom of God?
It was scary for the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. They complained to Mosses often that it would have been better had they remained slaves in Egypt. They continued to have a slave mentality, and for this reason, they had to stay in the wilderness for an entire generation, and it was a new generation that inherited the land of Canaan. Are we willing to do the work we need to do – to change our mindsets and to set captives free, or will the Kingdom of God be for a new generation?
Is it already? Or not yet?
That’s all I’ve got. That’s my mite.