4/12 - Pastor's Post

It's almost Easter! It's already Wednesday in Holy Week; Palm Sunday is behind us. In just a few days our chancel will once again be Ash_Cross_simpletransformed from the austerity of Lent to a garden of the Resurrection.
 
We're almost there! But there is one slight problem which still has to be dealt with: Holy Week and Good Friday. "No pain, no gain," as they say. To put it more biblically,the way to glory leads through the cross.
 
No glory without a cross! Not a very popular message to deliver, even in the church these days, where all too often a shallow desire to "feel good" has replaced a willingness to meet life head-on with all its problems and tragedies.
 
Two thousand years ago at this season of the year our Lord was making his way to Jerusalem with his disciples. They were probably for the most part looking forward to their visit to the Holy City. To be sure, the Master had mumbled something on a few occasions about suffering and cross-bearing, and it was no secret that the authorities in the capital were not exactly favorably disposed towards him. But all of those forebodings were quickly forgotten in light of the enthusiastic reception the crowd gave Jesus: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
 
But suddenly, like springtime weather, the mood of the crowd at Jerusalem changed. Five days later the one who had been received as King of Israel was condemned to die a criminal's death. The disciples' hopes were shattered; Jesus' enemies appeared to have triumphed. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.
 
We know how the story ends; and since Good Friday is "not very nice," (as may modern made-for-television or movies about the life of Jesus graphically show; the most extreme example is Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," which created quite a stir in 2004) many people would rather simply omit this part. But can we really experience the joy of the resurrection if we have not first of all stood under the cross? Can we fully comprehend what our Lord has done for us if we have not come to terms with our own sinfulness and sought his forgiveness? Attempting to celebrate Easter without having first observed Good Friday is like someone arriving too late for a theatrical performance and only seeing the last part of the third act, or walking out when the suspense gets to be too much to take.
 
Therefore I invite you, as the Holy Week hymn by James Montgomery admonishes us: Calvary's mournful mountain climb; There, adoring at his feet, Mark that miracle of time, God's own Sacrifice complete; "It is finished," hear him cry; Learn of Jesus Christ to die.
 
And then comes the final act: Early hasten to the tomb, Where they laid his breathless clay; All is solitude and gloom; Who hath taken him away? Christ is risen!-He meets our eyes; Saviour, teach us so to rise.
 
Yes, it's almost that time again. Easter will indeed be upon us very soon. But just as we can only appreciate the beauty of spring because we also knew the harshness of winter, so likewise we will only fully understand the miracle of Easter after we have knelt at the cross and cast our sins upon him who died that we might live.

Pastor John Schweitzer

Last Published: April 13, 2017 10:12 AM
Empowered by Extend, a church software solution from