Your life is a story.

Before you call somebody to ghost write your memoir, this is true of everybody. Every person’s life is a story. A story worthy of being told. A story worthy of being listened to. A sacred story. One filled with adventure, heartbreak, success, and a lot of failure. A story of love, even if only of the self (as if that weren’t a daring story). A story of grief and loss.
Every person’s life is a story. 

This week is Holy Week. The time each year when the (Western) Christian Church celebrates Palm Sunday - Jesus’ triumphant and humble entry into Jerusalem; Maundy Thursday - Jesus’ final meal with his disciples and friends; Good Friday - the crucifixion of Jesus; Holy Saturday - a day of darkness, waiting, and silence; and finally Easter morning - a day of resurrection and the celebration of God’s persistent choice of life and power over death. 
This too is quite the story to tell, and we do it all in just one week. 

If you have been following our Lenten journey, Holy Week may feel a bit like a repeat. Our series for Lent 2021 is called “More than Just a Day.” On Ash Wednesday we began this story with Jesus being anointed at Bethany (Mark 14:3-9). Since then, each Sunday, we have slowly journeyed the final 24 hours of Jesus’ life. And when I say slowly, it may have felt like a crawl, like time was nearly standing still. 
This practice of moving slow has felt like an attack on the normal pacing of our lives. Counter cultural as we often say. It has been a needed reminder to slow down and pay attention if we truly want to listen to the story, rather than just hear it. 
Slow down to value the detail and understand.
Slow down to feel the story.
Slow down to find ourselves in the story. 

I believe this is the power of the Gospel story, especially in Mark. In my opinion Mark is an expert storyteller. Those who read quickly may disagree. They will probably argue there are too many gaps, too much rushing around, and a terrible ending. But for the reader who is willing to read slowly, willing to pay closer attention, and to enter into the story they will feel as though they are holding up a mirror to their own life, their own experiences, their own belief and unbelief. And, rather than feeling let down at the end, curiosity, eager anticipation, and invitation will be their parting gift. 

Today is Maundy Thursday - the day we remember when Jesus shared a meal with his disciples. We remember the meal and we also remember his commandment (mandate) to love and serve one another. Again, if you have been following our series this will be a return to where we began. As we gather this evening for a time of contemplation and reflection, we will once again join together in the sacred meal to remember. You are invited to slow down. You are invited to join us at the table (be that virtual) tonight at 7:00pm CST.

Tomorrow we will turn to the cross. If you are reading along in Mark you may be surprised by the anticlimactic telling of crucifixion:
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” (Mark 15:25-26).

Mark’s Gospel doesn’t give the detail the others do.
Then in verse 37 we read:
Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

The Common English Bible translation is even shorter, “But Jesus let out a loud cry and died.” This, in my opinion, is a poor translation as it misses the essence of Mark’s story telling. The extinguishing of breath is significant. If you remember Ash Wednesday, we talked about the creation narrative in Genesis 2 where, “the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” This was where we truly began.
Tomorrow, on Good Friday, we don’t simply reflect on the death of Jesus some 2,000 years ago. We reflect on the counter narrative of God. The undoing of creation. And, we are invited to determine what role we are playing. Are we joining God in the ongoing story of creation? Or are we reversing creation? Taking the breath from the lungs. Removing the breath of life. Killing the living being.
The Holy Week story continues today.
What role are you playing? 

Holy Week continues with Holy Saturday. Traditionally a day of silence. Alternatively, a day we will celebrate with our families at the Easter Pop-Up. And while I do hope you will bring your kids to the pop-up, and I do hope you’ll celebrate. I also hope you’ll internally sit with this story. We are complex beings who can hold paradox. We can reflect, grieve, and mourn while also celebrating. That will be the call for many of us as we anxiously await Easter Sunday.
And waiting we are… We are beyond thrilled to welcome you back in person for Easter Sunrise service at 7:00am CST. If you haven’t reserved your spot, check back as we are looking to open more pods, while ensuring we can do so safely! We will also continue or online worship beginning at 10:20am CST. You’re invited to join our staff for a special Sunday Sit Down, then we’ll continue in worship at 10:50 with our Easter liturgy. 
Friends, we are in the midst of the story. It continues to unfold right before our eyes. If you haven’t been following along with us throughout the series, over the next few days I encourage you to begin in Mark 14:3 and read through 16:8. Read slowly. Read intentionally. Read to find yourself in the story. And when you finish verse 8 of chapter 16, reflect on the invitation before you. (More to come on this Easter morning!)
A blessed Holy Week to you. May you find your role in the unfolding story.

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