It is Holy Week. There is no time in the life of the Church that is more central to who we are than this week. We began with the shouts of ‘Hosanna’ on Palm Sunday as we recalled Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Few, if any, had a clue what would follow in the days ahead. Jesus knew that the days before Him would bring Him to the hour for which He came into the world.
He celebrated the Passover with His disciples and gave us Lord’s Supper as our eternal participation in that night. As St. Paul teaches, ‘as long as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” In the Supper, we are surrounded by the ‘communion of saints’ both those who have gone before us and those surrounding us.
As we gather around the Cross on Friday we are reminded that Jesus is bearing in Himself what we could not begin to bear. The words of the hymn, ‘Ah, Holy Jesus’ become all to real as we sing: ‘Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee. ’Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied Thee; I crucified Thee.”
The long hours between Friday when Jesus is laid among the dead and the First Day of the Week is where we keep our Easter Vigil. We are waiting, hoping that what the hands of hateful human beings have done, the grace and mercy of God will undo.
Then the morning of Easter comes. In light beyond description, Jesus bursts forth from the tomb, risen and glorious, never to taste of death again. That which ended in sorrow and death is made new in the risen life that brings life to all. As our Orthodox brothers and sisters sing at Easter, ‘Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and to those in the tombs bestowing life!’ We have life again, life forever, life in the love and mercy of God.