It has been a long time since I blogged here, for various reasons I needed a break and a change, but sometimes, just sometimes it is good to return to something, and this is a return. This blog is full of memories, some wonderful and some hard, some that in my darker moments I would simply like to delete, and yet they are a part of me, a part of who I am.
So here I am sitting in a new place returning to an old place, looking out across my garden which is filling with spring flowers and blossoms and promising more, if I open the doors my room is filled with bird-song, signs of life and hope are all around me, always a strange juxtaposition on the edge of Holy week as we prepare to follow Jesus to the cross once again, returning to the story of his passion and crucifixion, which I believe are essential for us to truly even begin to embrace the mystery of resurrection, and yet the daffodils and tulips in my garden stand as a reminder that new life is possible.
New life is possible, these are words that we all need to hear at one time or another, I have certainly been telling myself that over and over as I seek a new way forward after life changing events have turned me upside down and caused me to question everything! The trouble is that this leaves me feeling fragile and vulnerable, not somewhere I am comfortable being, but true nevertheless! So in my vulnerability and frailty I prepare to enter into Holy week again..
Tomorrow I will preach, it will be a mix of palms and passion, for what is often dubbed " The triumphal procession" is the mystery of the beginning of the end, which is itself a new beginning, it is through struggle and pain and sacrifice that new life emerges. New life as fragile and vulnerable at the resurrection as it was in the incarnation, and that is its strength! The palms led to passion, the passion to death, and death to new life, we cannot go from triumph to triumph, though again I question the use of that word in either context.
In tomorrow's text we enter into Jerusalem with Jesus, surrounded by cheering crowds, laying palm branches and cloaks in his path, this crowd draws others and in between the cries of Hosanna we hear a question echoed again and again " who is this?" Who is this ? It is easy to miss these words, as we assume that everyone knows, "this is the prophet Jesus from Galilee!". Who is this? Could it be that this question could become our gift as we enter into Holy Week? Could it be that we might discover for ourselves new depths in the answers that this week has to offer as we enter again into his story and allow ourselves to be shaped and challenged by it?
My journey over the last few years has led me to separate out the two names Jesus and Christ, as Richard Rohr says over and over in his teaching "Christ is not Jesus surname, Christ is who he became, and a life into which he calls us. Jesus allowed himself to be transformed, and calls us to follow, letting go of our false egoic selves that we might become more. Throughout Holy Week the theme of inclusion and forgiveness builds until it seems that it self destructs, the wonder is that if there is any triumph the triumph belongs to forgiveness itself, and from there new life emerges. Just read the account of the Last Supper, Jesus washed Judas feet, served him with bread and wine, even before he departs into the darkness Judas is forgiven and included, could it be that his death also gave way to new life, just as it did for the thief on the cross?
As I ponder the story afresh, and allow its life and power to touch my life I find that I am challenged to include and embrace the broken parts of myself, not to hide them away or cover them up but to truly own them and call them what they are, oddly in that they become less not more of me for they are no longer my focus. I have discovered that to forgive myself is to love myself, to love myself is to love God, to receive the divine embrace means holding nothing back, nothing, all must be included. So in entering the story of the last week of Jesus life we must see it in the context of his whole life, his grace, his love, his healing works, his oneness with the elements, with the wild beasts in the desert, calming the storm, feeding the 5,000, this invites us to a fuller picture, a place where the crucifixion is filled with possibilities that do not reduce us to a place where darkness, sin and evil are rejected and fought against, but somehow included and transformed as they are received into the death that brings new life, where the possibility of all being reincorporated into the original goodness and wholeness is made real!
If we dare to allow the stories of Holy Week to show us the path of inclusion and love, where even the ultimate act of a violent death is absorbed and transformed by love, where even the perpetrators are forgiven and included, their ignorance and blindness recognised and compassion bestowed upon them, if we dare to include our own ignorance and blindness, even offering what we don't or dare not see as a gift to the one who was pierced, then maybe we will find ourselves on a path to the kind of transformation that will transform not only ourselves but the world around us, that we might become signs of hope and life as we are drawn deeper into the Christ mystery where all things are possible!