Have you ever fallen asleep in the middle of a movie, only to wake up an hour later with the credits rolling? I do this more often than I’d like to admit. (Perhaps not coincidentally, this happens with much more frequency now than it did before I had kids…) Even on those occasions when I wake up in time to see how the movie ends, I always feel like I’ve missed something: how did we get here? what happened in the middle?
Next week is Holy Week, and by this time next week, we’ll have already waved our Palm Sunday palms and shouted our hosannas, and we’ll be well on our way into the middle of the story. We know how it ends – there’s an empty tomb and a risen Christ, and lots of good news – so we might be tempted to let the middle slip by unnoticed, as if it isn’t all that important, as if the book-ending Sundays are all that matter.
When we skip the middle, we jump right from the Palm Sunday cries of “Save us!” to the Easter proclamation of salvation, without ever hearing about how the saving actually happens. It’s easier, maybe, but the story doesn’t really make sense if you skip to the end.
See, on Thursday, we remember Jesus gathered in that upper room, washing the feet of his disciples in an act of love and service that astonished them, sharing an ancient feast that took on new meaning. We hear Jesus telling his disciples – and us – about this new commandment, to love one another
And on Friday, we come face to face with the harshness of the world, and we begin to see why that new commandment is so important. Loving one another as Christ loves us is the only way we’ll ever make it in this fallen and broken world.
Then, Saturday, it’s quiet, and we’re left to ourselves, and even though we know how the story will end, we wait in hopeful expectation that God’s love will conquer even death, again.
So here’s my plea: Don’t miss the middle of the story. Join us Thursday evening at 6:30 as we lift up stories of what love looks like. Join us Friday at noon as we lay our despair at the foot of the cross. Offer your own quiet prayers on Saturday.
Come Easter Sunday, you’ll be glad you stayed awake.