We weathered these storms together. That was the message from National Grid. After enduring three major “weather events” in the first two weeks of March, the utility company wanted to acknowledge a genuinely “challenging time” that “tested our patience” with “disruptive” outages. They also took the opportunity to express gratitude for the “outstanding efforts of so many” who worked tirelessly to ensure safety and to restore power for their customers. It’s all true, of course. This month has been filled with equal parts frustration (from the weather) & inspiration (from the human response). As I write this letter before Holy Week there’s still the possibility of a fourth weather event that’s being called the “four’easter”.
It turns out that our series of winter storms has provided a fitting context for Holy Week. After all, one of our primary invitations on Palm Sunday is to follow Jesus through a series of turbulent storms during his betrayal, passion and crucifixion. We’re invited to journey with Jesus and to weather these storms together. The tragic irony, of course, is that none of his followers will be faithful. None of his followers will be praised for their outstanding effort or their tireless work to restore God’s Kingdom. Quite the opposite: “All of them deserted him and fled” (Mk. 14:50).
Unlike the literal storms of our lives, during Holy Week we’re already prepared for failure & betrayal. We already know that Jesus is the only one who’s going to weather these storms faithfully. It’s tragic. It’s ironic. Yet much to our surprise, these tragic failures also become the source of Christian hope. Christian hope never relies on our tireless efforts or detailed planning to weather the storms of our faith. Christian hope rests entirely outside of ourselves. Christian hope is real entirely in spite of ourselves. Christian hope is found entirely in the resurrection of Jesus. Whenever we fail to weather the storms of our faith, God’s response is the gift of new life!
This year, let’s begin Easter by acknowledging our faults and brokenness. Let’s be honest about our tendency to desert Jesus in the midst of the world’s turmoil and suffering. Let’s not be seduced into thinking that Holy Week is just another invitation to self-improvement. Instead, let’s allow ourselves to receive the resurrection of Jesus as a gift. Let’s watch for the ways that God’s new life arrives in our midst in spite of any of our successes or failures. And then, let’s express our gratitude by sharing the Good News of resurrection life with the world.
The Rev’d. Eric M. Hillegas
Maundy Thursday, March 29th at 7pm: Foot Washing & Stripping of the Altar
Good Friday, March 30th at 6pm: Stations of the Cross, 7pm: Passion Liturgy w/Solemn Collects
Holy Saturday, March 31st at 7pm: Easter Vigil Candlelight Eucharist
Easter Sunday, April 1st at 10am: Festal Eucharist with Light Lunch