Flying home today, the start of Holy Week, and I want to cry. I did not want to hear about dead babies in shoeboxes today, a woman losing her father and son, the riots and turmoil in Ukraine-----and there it all comes, intruding upon our lives, the hellish mess we are.
And I think----did you know about us, Jesus, that week 2000 years ago, when you set your face resolutely toward Jerusalem? This is near the day you told your dearest friends, “I am greatly distressed . …” as you entered that pitiful city. Did you know these millennia later, in the week of your death, we would do this---kill our own babies, shoot other people’s babies, invade cities and swallow up whole countries just because we could? Did you know we would be mad with greed, riddled with disease, possessed by hate----still? Did you know you would “so love the world” and die, staked out naked before God, dear lamb of God slain for the sins of the world----and we would keep slaying each other hell-bent as if you never came?
And in this news-bombed state, I know the holy cynic's answer, the saddest truth (and yet, the gladdest):
Our evil will never surprise you. There is no evil beyond our imagining that you have not already seen. There is no wickedness nor atrocity that you have not already carried, you who felt its entire weight upon your smothered heart that day. You know us entirely, and still, you went. (You trembled, yes, and agonized---but you also went with joy. Joy!)
And You told us it would go this way: wars and famine, oppression and disease. The moon will turn to blood, the mountains will melt and the strongest hearts will give way----until what You finished on the cross is finished---finally, fully, completely (Joy!)
Until then, “do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good,” Paul tells us. And do not be overcome with despair, because Jesus died not to fill us with despair and fear, but with peace.
“I’m leaving you well and whole,” he said to his dearest friends, who are also surely us. “That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught."
"My peace I’m giving to you. “
Let us do this now, overcome evil with peace and good this unholy week made holy by Him, the Lamb of God,
and now by us,
who will go out and bless instead of curse,
who will love instead of hate,
who will speak peace instead of despair.
My peace I've given to you.