By Rev. Catherine Stark-Corn, Interim Minister to Youth, Children, and Families
“You had to be here from the beginning,” I chastise my husband as he walks in half way through a show I am watching. He immediately says this doesn’t make sense. He asks questions that show he is a bit lost and in an effort to hush him I simply say, “It won’t fully make sense to you because you are only seeing one part of it.”
As I prepare for Holy Week getting excited about the Pastors’ Class baptisms and the palm parade with shouts of hosanna – I often want to hurry past the other Holy Week events and get to Easter morning. The mystery of Easter is celebrated here with such beautiful flowers, amazing music, greetings of Happy Easter from many people – a truly joyous celebration. Yet as I have gotten older I have come to recognize the necessity of the full sequence of events that lead us to the morning where we celebrate new life.
One of my seminary professors often said you cannot have true joy without experiencing some suffering. I remember at the time really struggling with that – trying to stand in what she saw as the difference between happiness and joy. In recent years I have had a bit more sadness and dare I say some personal suffering with the loss of both of my parents, and the words of my professor have more meaning and reality for me now. I now see how sweet is the joy of a special celebration with family; how real is the joy when one of my son beams from an accomplishment; how deep is the joy to feel unconditional love.
So too we must follow this pattern of living into the fullness of all the events of Holy Week. As our hosannas turn to quiet moments as we embrace the sadness of Maundy Thursday when Jesus shared with the disciples how he knew the end of his earthly time was nearing. And then the dark loneliness of Good Friday when we confront the suffering, pain, and deep injustice that still lives on in our world today. But the story does not end there, as Christians we receive the deep, grace-filled love showered on us by our God as we raise up our alleluias on Easter morning.
We must live through the full Christ event in order to be lifted up by the joy of Easter. In other words, you have to be there from the beginning for it all to make sense.