The Center of the Christian Year

It's coming: Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. It's the center of the Christian year, more important even than Christmas. And its message is that everything we assume about life is exactly wrong. The King of the Jews rides into the capitol city of Jerusalem to confront the Roman occupying powers--not on a warhorse but on a donkey, not followed by troops with spears but peasants with palms. When his disciples are awestruck at the spectacle of the huge Temple, Jesus tells them, "Don't get too excited--before long this is going to be rubble." On Thursday, as he celebrates Passover with his disciples, he suddenly tells them that it's not just a remembrance of the past but an anticipation of the future: "This bread is my body, broken for you...This wine is the new covenant in my blood..." Friday, which we now call Good Friday, is the day of his tortuous execution--and the day of his victory. And Sunday flies in the face of everything we know about life, especially that its greatest threat is physical death. God is more powerful. And that becomes the beginning of what we now call the gospel, "Good News."

How would our lives be different--and how would the world be different--if we took seriously the opposites that lie at the heart of Holy Week?


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