Friday, April 11, 2014
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From Lent's darkness to Easter's light

By Pastor Adam Quine

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[April 11, 2014]  It always begins so well. After completing our journey through the wilderness, we are all eager for a parade and a party. By this point, our clothes are tattered and shredded from the walk, our feet hurt and we need to wipe the dust off our tired, worn-out bodies. What a welcome sight the banners in the distance are for our eyes, and what more refreshing sound to break the silence than the swooshing of palm branches being waved. We don our Sunday dress and our best smile, mindful that our wanderings have waned and our celebration is about to commence.

But despite our celebration, things rapidly move downhill, don't they?

Palm Sunday called also Passion Sunday, signaling a full reading of the Passion narratives in the Scriptures frames the impending week. It reminds us that the moment which appears to signal the height of Jesus' public acceptance, actually begins the process of Jesus' public betrayal, public failure, his public abandonment. The truth of Palm Sunday illuminates what we have been searching out for all of Lent: Jesus demonstrates endurance, managing to stay the course until the very end, overcoming temptations and defeating the lies in all their manifestations. The Passion narratives trace the struggle, one segment at a time, between the expressed Word of God and the ways of the world.

Before long, we see all these conflicting forces collude and collide. We watch Jesus, still caught in the grip of religious and political agendas, continue speaking and reaching out, unconcerned with the associated controversy and conflict. The first days of Holy Week confirm this truth: that there are some things which are indeed worth living for, even (and perhaps, especially) if this means that we have to die for them as well.

After Wednesday, the good news becomes a little harder to find. On Thursday, we meet Jesus for the last time with the disciples, sharing stories and praying, even with and for the one who will betray him.

Then we reach Friday. We all know what happens on Friday. For a moment in time, it appears that this great light has been snuffed out by the violence and power of the world; our parade of palms ends with a slow procession behind a hearse. So it is in silence we remain through Saturday, reading the story of God's salvation, trusting and hoping that God is who God says God is.

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And then...

Though we know the story all too well...

Despite all that occurred on Friday...

We trust, we hope, we believe that on Sunday, with the first sight of light, we will receive the good news the good news that evil does not have the final say; the good news that violence has not won; the good news that God is a God of resurrection, and not destruction.

As Lent was a time to call us to change our hearts, Easter is a time when we expose the joy in our hearts, emergent from the radical revelation that God in Christ defeated death bodily and that we may now live to bring God's love fully into the world.

Suddenly, what started out as apparently routine, ends in a way that we can never fully understand. And yet, we know in our bones that Easter Sunday is the moment Christmas points to, the moment the Passion obscures, the moment the tomb reveals, the moment we celebrate and proclaim: Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!

The darkness is dissipating. Join us as we celebrate the return of Light!

[By Pastor ADAM QUINE, First Presbyterian Church]

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