My mother has a habit of falling asleep soon after the start of a movie airing on tv. She sleeps as the movie plays. Then, about 30 minutes from the ending, she wakes up, sometimes asking, “What happened?”
Granted, some movies can be summed up in one or two sentences. For example, the plot lines of many action movies like The Fast and the Furious and their 834 sequels, a favorite genre of my late step-father, can be summed up fairly concisely. Someone did something, the good guys chased the bad guys, after many explosions and much witty banter, the movie ended with one or two threads open for a sequel, depending on the box office success.
But explaining a movie that is filled with silence, symbolism, ancient wisdom in the stories of our faith, and holy acts bound together by sacrament in one minute or less?
Well, that’s a bit more challenging, if not impossible.
You don’t sum it up in a few words. You experience it. You feel it in your soul. You let the words find you.
Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the most profound week of the Christian year. We engage ourselves in the journey of Jesus’ last days – his ministry, his betrayal, his crucifixion, and his resurrection.
We are with Jesus, which is why we, too, journey with Jesus from life to death to eternal life through the span of these holy day. We gather with Jesus and his disciples on Maundy Thursday. We try to stay awake with Christ in the Garden as the solemnity of the Last Supper wanes into the starkness of Good Friday. We call for his crucifixion on Good Friday. And we wait, tired, grief-stricken, and wearied in the darkness of Holy Saturday.
And then, perhaps as we are ready to explain what happened, that death won, that our own human ability to celebrate someone and quickly crucify them when they fail the meet our expectation won, that love has died on the cross, our words are interrupted by the sheer silence of the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection as we hear the beautiful words as we light the New Fire, “Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer.”
Wait. What? There’s more to the story? Can there be? But…he DIED!”
And the voice of God sings to us, “Oh, there’s always more to the story.”
Because the story is never truly complete. As Christians, we are constantly engaged in the timeless story of God’s love for us. We learn more about the past. We realize more about our present, and we are inspired to strive more toward a future of love, grace, and mercy.
We might be tempted to celebrate the miracle of Easter as if Easter Sunday is the end of the story.
It is not; it is simply a moment where we can catch our breath before the next chapters.
This year, Fifty Days of Fabulous will be part of the Good Book Club as we explore the next part of our story, the Acts of the Apostles. Each Monday, we’ll share a reflection about the upcoming weekly readings of the Acts of the Apostles based on the Good Book Club readings (click on the Readings tab for a list), then later during the week, we’ll post a video link for prayer, reflection, or discussion.
These posts can be used for personal devotion. They can also be used for church Bible studies, Sunday School classes, or prayer groups.
Because what happened is still happening. God is are still writing the holy story of love’s victory. And God is asking us to add our words.