I woke up this morning with the open windows and birds chirping. What a way to wake up. Nature always has this almost magical effect on me that on a nice day I can and often do get lost in the beauty of God’s creation. When you think about it, sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about the intricacies of the world around us and the fascinating balance within our world.
This Sunday the Christian churches celebrate Palm Sunday and the next Sunday there is the Easter Celebration. Something seems strange when we take the celebration of Palm Sunday and the celebration of Easter and miss the passion of the betrayal, abandonment, conviction, humiliation, and crucifixion. We, somehow, are unable to see the fullness of the resurrection, and are marked as unable to see the fullness of the sacrifice that Christ made by suffering through the passion.
Understanding the passion and Christ’s suffering are important because the empty tomb is rendered meaningless if we do not know and understand how Christ was put in the tomb to begin with. Missing Holy Week is like winning a race that was never run. Or, in other words, it is meaningless without the struggle.
The struggle is important. Unfortunately, as a society, we have all-too-often cut out the struggle. When crafting games for children, political correctness has allowed the struggle to be cut in order to “make everyone a winner.” In life, if we don’t like our place we can move. If we do not like a person we can avoid them. If we don’t like our job we can search for a new one. If we don’t have money we can borrow it. We can do many things to elevate ourselves from the suffering, and so could Christ.
In another way, it is similar to our secular life. The freedom that we have as a people is due in great part to the suffering and struggles of those who came before us. In the same way there are many who, because of the struggles of their parents, are able to live better and more comfortably than any prior generation in their family. Thus, history plays an important role, but the struggles of our previous generation shape us in who we are.
This is true in my life. Growing up, I never received an allowance. If I wanted something I had to work for it (mowing lawns, babysitting, washing cars, etc.), or save birthday and Christmas money. Though my parents could have afforded to give me much of what I wanted, they did not. Both grew up in families that were poor and struggled. Both went to college and both worked hard to make it to the tops of their chosen professions, much through the hard work they had learned of in overcoming struggles. In knowing their history and learning the importance of hard work, I am able to be that much more grateful for the life that I have.
The same is true of our faith. It is in the struggles of Christ that we understand the importance of the resurrection. God’s choice to send Christ into this world allows us to see God through Christ as fully human and fully divine. We know that he felt the same pains that we feel. He got sick, as we get sick. He was tempted, as we are tempted. And he suffered as we suffer. Thus, he suffered so that when we suffer we know that he is suffering with us. Furthermore, he did all this out of love; he did this so that we may receive his grace and have life.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen