Christ is still risen. Are you still celebrating?
It was easy to be filled with the hope and joy of Easter this past Sunday morning. Especially after not being able to gather for worship at all on Easter in 2020, there was something extra celebratory regarding Easter this year. The purple of Lent turns to the white of Easter. The music is uplifting. The church is full. The lilies were in bloom. The alleluias return and we join in the church wide proclamation, “He is risen indeed, Alleluia!” There is an extra level of energy and excitement found in the church on Easter Sunday.
But now a few days after Easter, is the joy fading? It seems almost inevitable that the Easter enthusiasm will begin to wilt. The plastic egg hunts are over. The chocolate bunnies are eaten. Our homes are littered with empty candy wrappers. A cynical world mocks us for our traditions and belief that a dead man could actually raise from the dead. We’re back to a sober reality—pandemic, economic hardships, and the ongoing list of unpleasant realities of the day. We want to rejoice; we know we should rejoice. But to be honest we just don’t have it within ourselves to remain joyful. How can we sustain the Easter joy? How can we still live in the joy of the resurrection?
Unsurprisingly, Holy Week is a busy time for those that work (or volunteer) in the church. Creating liturgies. Printing bulletins. Practicing hymns. Writing sermons. Preparing the proper paraments, candles and Communion. But for all the things to do, the Wednesday of Holy Week has always been oddly quiet. The calm before the storm, so to speak. That’s the striking reality in the pages of scripture too. During the first holy passion week of Jesus, there seems to be an open date on Jesus’ otherwise jam-packed calendar. Relative silence. What did He do on this day? There’s really no way for us to know. We can only speculate what may have been going through the mind Jesus, knowing in parts nearby the religious establishment were working out the details of His unjust demise. Indeed, we have a blank day in the middle of the most important seven days in the history of man. But perhaps it is intentional; and something we can apply to our own yearly celebration. With that in mind I share this reflection with you…
Although the exact sequence of events is not always clear to us, we can discern, even now, the straight lines of divine order... Sunday: The garments in the dust - the Hosannahs as the prelude to the "Crucify."... Monday: Sermons with the urgent note of finality - the withered fig tree - Caesar's coin... Tuesday: The terrifying wrath of the Lamb over institutionalized and personal sin among the Scribes and Pharisees - the fire and color of His last sermon to the city and the world - the sureness of justice and the coming of judgment... Night and prayer in the light of the Easter moon on the Mount of Olives...
Wednesday is silent... If anything happened, the holy writers have drawn the veil... Everything that God could say before the Upper Room had been said... It was man's turn now... Perhaps there were quiet words in a corner of the Garden, both to His children who would flee and to His Father who would stay... Wednesday was His... The heart of that mad, crowded Holy Week was quiet... Tomorrow the soldiers would come, and Friday there would be God's great signature in the sky... Thursday and Friday would belong to time and eternity, but Wednesday was of heaven alone...
Silent Wednesday... If our Lord needed it, how much more we whose life is the story of the Hosanna and the Crucify... Time for prayer, for adoration... Time to call the soul into the inner court and the Garden... In our crowded world we are lonely because we are never alone... No time to go where prayer is the only sound and God is the only light... We need more silent Wednesdays... In the glory of the Cross above our dust, our silence can become purging and peace... God speaks most clearly to the heart that is silent before Him... [O.P. Kretzmann, The Pilgrim]
This quiet Wednesday can be a day to pray, a day to cherish our families and those close to us, and a day to rest and make plans for worship. It is certainly a day to be in awe of Jesus who could have filled this Holy Week Wednesday with miracles that would have left his enemies powerless. But no, he knew the cross had to come and so, in silence, he prepared for it today. It may not show up on a calendar, but we have of thanks that Jesus filled this empty day with the determination to go forward to the cross.