A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Monday, March 30, 2015

Holy Week - Permission to Grieve

With so much focus on the Easter Sunday celebration, we often neglect to reflect deeply on the events of Holy Week. Holy Week is a time to grieve over the suffering and death of Christ, but also other losses in our lives.

We mourn the loss of loved ones, the ending of relationships, the loss of employment, brokenness from our past, changes in our lives that are beyond our control, and the heartache of suffering throughout our world. In a society that seeks to bypass the sting of loss at all costs, Holy Week gives us permission to grieve.

When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, all of life's pain, sin, and brokenness died with him. When I reflect on Jesus praying alone in the garden or hanging from the cross, I sense the weight of the world's pain resting on his shoulders in those last moments of his life. When Jesus died, so did the sting of pain and death.

It's not a pretty sight to follow the events of Holy Week which ends with Jesus' body being placed in a tomb. Holy Saturday is a day of rest, silence, and reflection. We have permission to grieve.

The liturgical church calendar offers us sacred times throughout the year to reflect, mourn, and express our longings to God. These seasons include, Advent, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, and All Saints' Sunday. The scriptures remind us that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. God is faithful! The good news of our faith doesn't end with a cross! The victory ("nikos" in greek) is won because of the cross AND an empty tomb!

With this in mind, Holy Week gives us permission to grieve as we follow the last days of Jesus' life. I often listen to the musical piece, "Adagio for Strings" by Samuel Barber during this time. This beautiful music helps me to reflect on Jesus' suffering and death. It also helps me to reflect on the losses and pain I have experienced in life.

When we give ourselves permission to grieve, it makes the singing of the "Hallelujah Chorus" on Easter Sunday even more of a celebration.

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