Becoming Chris Kamalski

"There's a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us" ~Don Miller

Tag: Easter Sunday

When Death Dies.

Lent crescendos with the drama of Holy Week as we are literally invited to walk with Jesus unto his death.

Lent crescendos with the drama of Holy Week as we are invited to walk with Jesus unto his death.

Download “When Death Dies” to guide your Holy Week meditations here.

“Holy Week, the seven days before the feast of Easter, from Palm Sunday morning to Holy Saturday night, is charged with meaning. It is a microcosm of Jesus‟ public life seen in bas-relief. All of its components are there–the population at large, the temple priests and their concern for orthodoxy, the prophetic words of Jesus and the political concerns of Roman officials for the social upheavals they feared could come from them, the arrest and isolation of Jesus, and the fears and confusion of His followers. Condensed into one week, all these elements in the life of Jesus are laid bare for all to see. It is a dark week, a week heavy with the intensity of the drama among them.” Joan Chittester

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24 lays bare for us the reality that the death of death actually brings forth life and resurrection for all to taste. Reading through the Gospel narratives of the last week of Jesus‟ life, time slows down, the frenetic events leading to the crucifixion of Christ increasingly being laid bare for all to witness, no detail spared. It‟s as if Jesus was deliberately setting us up for the mystery to come: a broken and scarred body, defeated in front of all, actually initiating the influx of life itself. As Gungor mournfully sings, “Like the waters flooding the desert. Like the sunrise showing all things. Where it comes flowers grow. Lions sleep, gravestones roll. Where death dies all things life.” (When Death Dies).

From the heights of praise echoing through the streets on Sunday, to the betrayal of close friends on Thursday, to the crushing weight of despair on Friday, to the silence of grief on Saturday, Holy Week crescendos and falls through the hours, simultaneously the pinnacle of hope and the pit of hopelessness. Through it all stands Jesus resolute, unwavering in his willingness to suffer unto death so that death itself may die.

The writer of Hebrews gives poetic language to the weight of this week, exhorting all to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful man, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Hebrews 12:2-4).

Holy Week is a crescendoing collection of days built one upon the other, set apart from the other 51, for the express purpose of celebrating the death of death, once and for all. For it is only when death dies, that all things live. Welcome to When Death Dies, 3rd Place. The hour is now upon us. A kernel of wheat is falling to the ground, dying for all to live. The harvest of seeds is coming, all things alive…when death dies.

Jesus will die, yes, but not only. There is more than death to come. All in all, it is a week that brings us face-to-face with the great question, why must this happen? What is all this suffering about? But deep down inside of us, we already know what the life of Jesus and the days of Holy Week confirm: there are some things worth living for, even if we find ourselves having to die for them as well.” ~Joan Chittester

Download “When Death Dies” to guide your Holy Week meditations here.

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Easter Sunday: Exhausted Relief.

This feels like Sunday morning to me.

This feels like Sunday morning to me.

A Gospel Reading

 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”  But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed(John 20:24-29, NIV).

Exhausted Relief

Dayna Cermak asked me to read this passage near the close of our Easter morning sunrise service a few hours ago.  As a dutiful follower, I was reading with emphasis and PASSION(!), that is until I came to the last line, which I promptly stumbled over in its profundity.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.  Why would Jesus end his famous encounter with Thomas with this throwaway line?  Referencing those who were to come after him, and calling them blessed for not having seen what Thomas experienced?  Honestly, statements like that often leave a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth, and are one of the many reasons Scripture is difficult to swallow at times.  My cynical side screams “See!  There is no experiential reality to this Kingdom Christ has established.  You are as empty as ever!”  

And yet.

And yet I hold on, for in the mixed nature of those words is a gritty reality that confirms just how deeply Jesus knows me (and by extension, the nature of all human beings, it seems).  That he would extend himself to me–Chris Kamalski, a 29 1/2 year old man full of hopes, doubts, despair, questions, strength; a man who has in some ways leapt off the deep end this year pursuing a life he thinks he wants (hoping all along that those secret, buried desires are spoken too as well)–and speak to me as well as Thomas in that moment is too much for me to take in. 

I am remembered.  I am valued.  I am loved (called blessed even!). I don’t know how to take this in. My overwhelming feeling at this moment is a mixture of exhaustion and relief.  

Exhaustion because our community has deeply entered into these past 8 days, truly seeking to walk with Christ in his final hours prior to death.  And we have succeeded in a manner of depth, passion, and creativity that I have never before known.  It has been a long, emotional, deep, shifting week.  I identify with Christ in ways I have never known, and it is because of this week walking with others.  Exhaustion because we have been moving from one thing to the other these past 4-5 weeks, and I am spent.  Exhaustion because moving willingly to one’s death (whether real, or those many small deaths of denial or hoped for sacrifice) are HARD.  

And yet: Relief. Relief because He has come, and is coming again.  Relief because my burdens have been shouldered by Another, even as I am unwilling to release them.  Relief as freedom is around the corner, momentary and forever, even if I am not always desiring to enter into it.  Relief, whether I receive it or not.

He has brought relief.  Hallelujah!

On a walk to get pizza Saturday night, the Mail & Guardian sums it up best.

Our community voluntarily lived without power for 24 hours Saturday, to identify with the finality of Christ's death, as well as to steward our environmental resources. On a walk to get pizza, the Mail & Guardian sums it up best.