The cross is the main symbol of our faith, and it invites us to find hope where we see pain and to reaffirm the resurrection where we see death. The call to be grateful is a call to trust that every moment of our life can be claimed as the way of the cross that leads to new life. Can we be grateful for everything that has happened in our life – not just the good things but for all that has brought us to today? In the world’s eyes, there is an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. But in the eyes of God, they are never separated. Our ministry is to help people gradually let go of their resentment and discover that right in the middle of suffering there is blessing. Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the Kingdom of God.
What a wonderfully full Holy Week and Easter we have just celebrated at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. How incredibly inspiring it was to, day by day, follow Jesus from the glory of the palms, to the pain of the cross, to the glory of the resurrection. Each liturgy of the church is so rich. We had the fulsome experience of following our Loving Lord with an intentionality that allowed us to experience joy, excitement, service, betrayal, agony, denial, anticipation, and jubilation. We were able to gaze directly into the empty tomb and see for ourselves that “The Lord has risen indeed – Alleluia!”
What is so enriching for me this time of year is the reminder that the via dolorosa is a constant pathway to new life for us. Too often we reduce our life to a laundry list of the ‘good times’ and the ‘bad times.’ It becomes too easy for us, as Nouwen points out, to show gratitude only for that which falls under the list of ‘good times.’ Nouwen is right – with God there is no separation between good times and bad times. God is fully present in the sunshine and in the rain. Part of what makes Holy week and Easter celebrations so powerful for me is the expression of different mood and tonality, all of which proclaims that God is near. The power of the great singing of Alleluias on Easter Sunday is amplified by very visceral memory of the chanting of ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,’ on Good Friday.
Let us give thanks to God for the glory of the empty tomb, the power of the resurrection. Let us give thanks to God for breaking the bonds of death and darkness that we might come to know when we walk through those valleys of deep shadows, that God has already trod the via dolorosa and we never walk alone and we are never far away from the resurrected Christ