Becoming Chris Kamalski

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

Tag: Holy Week

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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Passover Seder at 3rd Place.

Last Supper Table.

Passover Seder.

Passing The Matzoh.

Pouring Out.

Leftover Table.

Love Your Neighbour.

All of these images were pretty dark and blurry due to the low candle light, so I messed around with Colorize Your Photos, a sweet little app I have, and was stunned by the simplicity of what came out!

Good Friday.

"Bowing his head, he gave up his spirit."

 

"Bowing his head, he gave up his spirit."

 

A Gospel Reading

Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head and dressed him in a purple robe.  They kept coming up to him and saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and slapping him in the face.  Pilate came outside again and said to them, ‘Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case against him.’  The chief priests and the guards shouted, ‘Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!’  Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him: I find no case against him.’  The Jews replied, ‘We have a Law, and according to that Law he ought to be put to death, because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’…They (the soldiers) then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out to the Place of the Skull, or as it is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side, Jesus being in the middle…When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier.  His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another, ‘Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it.’  In this way the words of Scripture were fulfilled: ‘They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothes.’  That is what the soldiers did.  Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary of Magdela.  Seeing his mother and the disciples whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’  Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’  And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.  After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed and, so that the scripture should be completely fulfilled, he said: ‘I am thirsty.’  A jar full of wine stood there, so putting a sponge in the wine on a hyssop stick, they held it up to his mouth.  After Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is fulfilled’; and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.                     (John 19:1ff, NJB).

If it is possible (?), I feel at this moment that too many words have been loosely thrown around about this pivotal, epochal, historical hinge point in human existence.  What to write about such a moment?  How do you adequately describe the “Restorer of All Things” desperately breathing his last few gulps of air?  Of eternity beginning to be set right again?  Of He, the First Fruit, dying in our place, so that ultimately we may live?

If anything, less is more with Good Friday.

In a spirit of reverence, I ask you to join with our community (who will have sung these famous lines at the start of our Good Friday gathering), in letting Isaac Watts gift us with his tune during these hours:

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.  Did ever such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.  

(Isaac Watts, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross)

Monday in Holy Week.

Disheveled Grade 7 classroom in Soshanguve.  Overturned chairs are violently chaotic, no?

Disheveled Grade 7 classroom in Soshanguve. Overturned chairs are violently chaotic.

A Gospel Reading

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.  And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’  But you have made it a den of robbers.”  The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.  When evening came, they went out of the city.  (Mark 11:15-19, NIV).

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area.  (John 2:15, NIV).

Some Disturbing Actions

  • Was this violent act of Christ’s premeditated?  Mark 11:11 seems to indicate so, as Mark records that Christ “looked around at everything” in the temple the night before this outburst.  John 2:15 adds weight to this frame of thought, as a separate yet similar incident in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry ends with Christ deliberately fashioning a whip to drive out those who abused the sacred purpose of the temple grounds!  Jesus’ subversive, unexpected act in this passage unnerves me, and says a lot about the nature of when to engage injustice.  Frankly, I am fearful of even entering those spaces in my life (of which there are many!).
  • What fear of the authorities could be so threatening as to warrant immediate discussion about ending Christ’s life?  Again, I’m not sure I know or fully grasp the ‘answer’ to this question, but I certainly do resonate with the loss of control that the religious leaders felt as they watched a growing crowd anticipate what Jesus would do next.  Whenever leadership or existing institution is threatened, often the resulting reaction is one based in fear and impending loss.  I understand this far too well!

A (Portion of) A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God’s creations, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

Palm Sunday

Was the procession really this peaceful and static?

A Gospel Reading

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethpage and Bethany, close by the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go to the village facing you, and as you enter it you will at once find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden.  Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone says to you, ‘What are you doing?’ say, ‘The Master needs it and will send it back here at once.’  They went off and found a colt tethered near a door in the open street.  As they untied it, some men standing there said, ‘What are you doing untying that colt?’  They gave the answer that Jesus had told them, and the man let them go.  Then they took the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on its back, and he mounted it.  Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others greenery which they had cut in the fields.  And those who went in front and those who followed were all shouting, ‘Hosanna!  Blessed is he who is coming in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of David our father!  Hosanna in the highest heavens!  He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and when he had surveyed it all, as it was late by now, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.  (Mark 11:1-11, NJB)

A Few Thoughts Disguised As Questions

  • Why a colt?  Was this a symbol of an upside-down, revolutionary, counter-cultural Kingdom in opposition to the ‘Pax Romana’ show of force of the empire of the day (Rome)?  Was Jesus really aware of what He was doing?  Why is this so hard for us to swallow, that he would ‘deliberately’ set himself up to die?
  • Why a cry for imminent salvation (Literal translation for ‘Hosanna!’)?  Hadn’t the crowds picked up on Jesus’ teaching of the ‘already-present-but-not-fully-yet’ Kingdom, even as a hint?  Hadn’t word spread of Jesus’ previous refusals to be made physical King through a coup so far?  Did they really expect Him to suddenly display a massive show of force?  How did their expectations mislead them so badly?
  • Could Jesus’ movements have been more deliberate as He entered the city? Why record these details?  Why leave out others?  In a Gospel that rarely includes excess detail, why would Mark note that Jesus was ‘surveying’ the city, almost mentally preparing for what was to come?

A Prayer Appointed for the Day

Assist me mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that I may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.