Pastoral Post 3.30.2018


By: Rev. Keith Turman

I wonder what they called it.

Maybe some called it holy on parade day. Maybe their hosannas were shouted with a deep sense that something beautiful and sacred was unfolding right before their eyes. But the week was a mess.  

Anger. Fear. Confusion. Greed. Dishonesty. Betrayal. Violence. Suffering. Death.

The Holy Week they experienced delivered every kind of pain at every possible turn.

It strikes me that our Holy Week is not so far removed from theirs. We feel it too, just in different ways. It doesn’t always feel very holy. Our world is a mess.

Anger. Fear. Confusion. Greed. Dishonesty. Betrayal. Violence. Suffering. Death.

It’s easy to feel helpless because the problems are so numerous and so big.  And it doesn’t always feel holy because it’s not. We are broken. We chase after the wrong things. We go to great lengths to feed our addictions. We treat people who are different from us—different. We abuse power. We cause pain. And the violence is disturbing.

On Thursday evening, Jesus retreats into a garden to pray. He is disturbed by the violence he knows is coming, and he wants to escape it. So he asks God to make it go away.

But Love does what Love must do.

Everyone at the gate waiting to board the airplane noticed the little girl. She was loud and noisy and happy—bouncing around, clapping her hands, chanting, “I’m gonna see Daddy! I’m gonna see Daddy!” Tony Campolo was amused at first. She was cute with her pigtails and fluffy dress and patent leather shoes. But her relentless attempts to let everyone know the good news that she was going to see her father became obnoxious and overbearing. He was never more ready to board an airplane and escape into the sanctuary his seat would provide. Of course, the noisy little girl took her seat directly across the aisle. Her high-energy announcement that she was going to see her father continued in full force until the flight attendant offered cookies and Coca Cola. Every time she passed by, the child took a cookie and another Coca Cola. He was amazed at how much this little girl could consume on such a short flight. On approaching the Colorado Springs airport, the plane went through a thunderstorm, which made for a rough and turbulent ride.

It wasn’t long before there was an eruption. Campolo describes the vomit as the worst smelling vomit imaginable. It was all over the little girl and all over her mother. It came in waves. Each time he thought the nightmare was over, there would be another eruption. When they finally landed, he couldn’t wait to get off that plane and away from the whole smelly mess. As he walked through the connector and into the airport, he saw a man dressed in a white flannel suit, eagerly waiting for someone. He knew exactly who it was. So he lingered behind to watch the encounter between this elegantly dressed father and little “vomit-face.” What happened took his breath away. The girl ran to her father and he swept her into his arms. She was covered in vomit and the stink was unbearable, but it didn’t make any difference to him. He had his little girl and that was all that mattered.

This week, Love does something quite definitive and final about the problem of sin. Something beautiful and sacred emerges from the darkness. It’s a Love that will hold even me.

So we call it Holy Week. Because it is.

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