We are in the middle of what Christians know as Holy Week. Its a funny name to me for a week that seems like anything but holy.

We’re told Jesus rides into Jerusalem in a triumphant entry. I’m not sure that’s really accurate. He came riding a donkey, that’s not really a worldly sign of triumph. We’re told the people lay down their cloaks and cut branches from palm trees to lay on his path. These are signs of adulation, but these are the regular every day people, not the one’s who make the life and death decisions. This spectable had to engender some resentment and anger among the elite.

We’re told while Jesus is in Jerusalem, he goes to the temple and drives out the moneychangers and vendors. We have to know there’s a whole bunch of folks who were angry at Jesus’ display of disdain and calling out of their hypocrisy and outlandish behavior. Again, not currying any warm and friendly feelings from those in charge.

We’re told he gathers his followers for the traditional Passover meal. He begins the evening with taking on a lowly servant role by washing their feet. After they have shared their Passover meal, Jesus does something new and different they had not heard or seen before. This isn’t unusual for them, Jesus had done and said lots of things that were new to them. He blesses the cup of wine and the bread on the table and gives it to them, saying these elements represent a new understanding of covenant. They are to resemble his giving of himself for everyone’s salvation. He even serves Judas, the one who he knows is going to betray him.

After all of this, Jesus leads his friends over to a garden to pray. They can’t seem to stay awake to watch over him while he goes into earnest prayer. Temple guards come to arrest Jesus. Judas identifies him with a kiss. Can you imagine, a kiss? They take Jesus on trumped up charges to the religious authorities where they abuse and mock him. They don’t have the authority to do what they want to do with him, which is kill him. They get in bed with the governmental authorities, who they have made a great show of being against, in order to accomplish their goals. They finally are able to get what they wanted, Jesus’ death at the end of the week.

Now what in all of that was holy? Holy Week, really? All of it sounds disgusting and unholy if you ask me.

Here’s the thing, Jesus endured all of this because Jesus loved them and us. Jesus put himself in the eye of a storm, whose conclusion he knew would be his torture and death. Jesus did this for me, for you, even for Judas, and even more shockingly for Caiaphas, Herod, Pontius Pilate, the soldiers who mocked and beat him, and those who nailed him to the cross.

I guess holy doesn’t mean nice, neat, pretty. I guess holy doesn’t indicate any good we can decipher from our own deeds. Maybe holy refers to the horrendous lengths God goes to show each of us love. Maybe holy refers to God’s action in the midst of our most repulsive thoughts and behavior. Maybe holy is what intercedes for our unholiness toward those who we choose not to love, not to care for, not to show kindness and compassion towards.

I pray this Holy Week is a meaningful and clarifying time for each of us.

Your companion on the Way,

Pastor Tom

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