Sometimes there’s such a disconnect with Holy Week, like watching a well-known play unfold like it does each time you see it. You already know the storyline, the actors, the sequence of events, even the outcome. You show up, pay attention to make sure you haven’t missed anything in the story, and then move on until next year and the story gets told again.
But where’s the disconnect in hearing the story again? After all, don’t children have their favorite stories they like to have read to them again and again? Sometimes they know the story so well, they can tell when you’re leaving out passages or words, trying to move it along so you can get them into bed.
The disconnect isn’t in hearing the story again. The disconnect is not engaging in the story. God doesn’t care that you know the story. God wants you to be in the story. Holy Week offers a reference point for getting into the story. Even if you don’t know the story well, there are so many places to enter. Jesus points the way.
Jesus could have kept himself from getting cornered and crucified (and I’m not saying we need to go get ourselves crucified). He could have maintained the status quo … stayed in his place in the social pecking order, not challenge the religious leaders, and certainly ignore the misfits of society that everyone else pretended weren’t there. He could have stayed hidden behind everything that was socially and religiously acceptable, and live a nice, mediocre life.
Interestingly, we really don’t have a whole lot of information about Jesus. But his influence on a handful of people caused a movement that covers the planet and is still adopted today. But then, I think that’s exactly how God still works today. As we engage with God and live out our life emulating Jesus, we make a difference in our little world.
Canadian Catholic philosopher and humanitarian Jean Vanier* said,
Those with whom Jesus identifies himself are regarded by society as misfits. And yet Jesus is that person who is hungry; Jesus is that woman who is confide and naked. Wouldn’t it be extraordinary if we all discovered that fact? The face of the world would be changed.
Wouldn’t that be extraordinary indeed! Here are a few other ways I’ve found to be in God’s transforming story:
Spend a little time every day sitting quietly. I prefer outside when the weather is nice. Just sit. Even 10 minutes can have wonderful restorative results. Jesus’ practice was go off by himself to a deserted place.
Practice one small act of kindness every day. Greet someone in the grocery aisle with a smile; bring in the elderly neighbor’s garbage can after trash pickup; send a card or note to someone you haven’t had contact with in awhile; the possibilities are endless. Listen to your heart. Something or someone will come to mind! Jesus’ practice was to acknowledge even those who were invisible to others when his path crossed theirs.
Pray. There’s nothing magical or remote about prayer. Start with one gratitude and one concern. Just talk to God like you would with someone with whom you’re having coffee. Better yet, write it down. It’s a nice way to end your day and clear your mind so you can have a restful sleep. Jesus’ practice was to pray regularly, usually when he went to the deserted place.
Be mindful. There is always something going on around us or within us that peaks our attention. Often we have no idea why it comes to mind or what, if anything, we need to do with it. I like to let things like that percolate on the back burner of my mind. It’s like reading a mystery and having the details revealed within the pages of the story. Jesus’ practice was to live his life as if he were manifesting God’s love through his actions. That’s certainly a wonderful way to be in the story!
* Jean Vanier the founder of L’Arche, an international organization which creates communities where people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them share life together. This quote is from Brokenness to Community.