I am indebted to Canon Mark Oakley for inspiring the title of this post. Writing in the Church Times, he describes how during the significant days of Holy Week many (not least clergy) wear themselves out journeying through the emotions of them all and they are ‘wholly weak’ by the end of it.
And it is a rollercoaster of a week. The triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Jesus making his mark. But only witnessed by a few? After all, who’s going to notice a man with a donkey in a first century busy, bustling city…
Then he causes havoc in the temple: turning over tables, shouting – calling out the church for what it does that isn’t about God. We’ve heard that message elsewhere…
On Thursday, there’s a meal with his closest followers. An act of fellowship contrasted by betrayal. The establishing of what we now call the Eucharist or Holy Communion. An act now so venerated: given a complexity which betrays the simplicity of its symbolism. Is that a message for us too?
Deserted by his friends (…and who’s not experienced that). A brutal arrest, trial and execution. Yet even the person in charge can see the innocence behind the events. Just like before, the city crowds perhaps thought nothing of a man carrying a large wooden beam in the street. One half of the symbol of death awaiting its upright companion. An ironic weapon for the carpenter’s son.
It is the women who remain faithful – and John. Strength for the dying Christ through those who are wholly weak.
The women are there again later on, watching Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus as Friday grows dark once again.
Less than 48 hours later Mary Magdalene, John, Peter and others get their first glimpses. Jesus has done what he promised to do.
David Rhodes wrote ‘The trouble with Easter is it comes too soon. There is simply not enough time between the terrible events of Good Friday and the discovery of the resurrection to make the necessary adjustment. Easter Sunday is in the wrong place. Like an aircraft in a steep dive, we cannot pull out in time. Plummeting down through Holy Week, we are still going down. And so are the disciples.’
For many, the last year in particular has felt like a long Good Friday. The message of the resurrection that the Gospel brings does not deny the reality of our experience.
But if we stay stuck on Friday with its feelings of isolation, anger and bitterness we will never experience the hope that Sunday brings. So Sunday has to follow Friday as clearly as the resurrection follows the crucifixion. As the American pastor Tony Campolo once said, ‘It’s Friday – and Sunday’s coming!’
For the wholly weak will be made wholly strong.
Thank you for reading this post – please do share it with others. If you’d like to follow the Easter journey there are some short films you may like to use.