Holy Week offers us space to reflect on both the suffering and death of Jesus, as well as his glorious resurrection Easter Sunday. It can be difficult to hold the tension of these two events. Painful loss. Miraculous redemption.
Too often, we tend to fixate on one and neglect the other. In our neighborhoods, it is sometimes too easy to witness and experience the suffering. We walk along broken sidewalks next to boarded up houses with rotting porches. We listen as teenagers pour out stories we wish hadn’t happened. We lament together when a young life is lost too soon.
Many of us in urban ministry are familiar with the suffering. In fact, sometimes it can swallow us up whole. We can pitch our tent at Golgotha and pass our days in sorrow at the brokenness and death.
We need Resurrection Sunday.
Our hearts cry out for the living God, and we recognize the redemption that lives all around us. We cheer when that old house is bulldozed or renovated. We tear up at a graduation ceremony for that teen who never should have made it. We celebrate all the goodness in our community at block parties, playgrounds, and neighborhood clean-ups.
But Easter Sunday cannot be fully experienced without Good Friday. We cannot breeze through the pain without acknowledging it in our souls. There is a tension in the lament of death and the celebration of life. Christ offers us both during Holy Week, and we are reminded that suffering is a part of the story, but it is not the end.
Elisabeth Elliot said it this way, “We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others."
This Easter, may you sit with the suffering Christ and party with the Risen Lord.
Image credit: Martin Kenny