In the face of each day’s horrors we can only turn again to the promise that the world has its beginning and end in God. This is from a newsletter article for April of 2014 about the services of the Paschal Triduum – the three days from Maundy Thursday to the dawning of Easter.
Once again we arrive at those wondrous, ancient liturgies that proclaim this profound story of the perfect son, betrayed and rejected yet vindicated; crucified and shamed, but honored; dead and in the grave yet raised, the firstborn of the dead.
It is a narrative that both describes and recreates the world. It describes the world of violence in which we live – a world where nails are pounded into flesh and the breath of life squeezed away.
It describes the breathtaking love that washes feet, prays for the world and forgives its torturers.
It describes the breathless waiting to see what God will do in response to the violence of the cross.
It describes the breath of God given to those who follow and proclaim Christ arisen.
The narrative changes us, renews us, restores us, recreates us. We are witnesses. We are recipients. Our feet are washed. We are fed. We are prayed for. We are freed by his surrender. We are illumined by his glance. We are bearers of his cross. We are the thief welcomed, the soldiers forgiven, the taunters blessed. We are those who hide, who are confused, who are fearful who are doubting and yet are met by the risen one.
We are the baptized, the pilgrims who eat the Passover meal, who walk through the water from Egypt to the Promised Land, who enter from the wilderness into milk and honey, who journey again from darkness into light, from death into life.
We are the born again, the born from above, the born of the Spirit, the children of light, the washed and forgiven and sent.
We are not recalling facts from the past; we are remembering, letting the past come alive in a way that shapes our present.
We are the Israelites, uncertain, fearful, blocked by our limited imaginations, looking back toward Egypt like Lot’s wife longing for her home in Sodom, but persistently led forward by a determined God. We are the disciples, unworthy, often unmindful, distracted, busy, asleep with full bellies though we have been asked to watch, running from the soldiers, but persistently called, gathered and sent. And we are the women, watching, waiting, wondering, hoping, and met by angels.
In the telling of the story the foundations are built, new timbers laid, new windows sculpted, new songs sung. Easter becomes not just a day for spring flowers and family gatherings, but a sunrise upon the soul and the dawning fulfillment of the promise of all things made new.
These three days are the defining moments not just for our lives, but for the world.