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Final Blessings

“Blessed are those who have learned to walk in the light of your presence.” —Psalm 89:15

The words of the psalmist take on new meaning when we speak of walking the way of the Cross. This week is our most sacred time, our Holy Week, when we remember the events of Jesus' last days living on Earth, the story of his arrest, trial, death, and resurrection. At our little parish of IHS, we continue following Kate Bowler's guidance in our material from "Bless the Lent We Actually Have" and looking at the blessings that come from this harrowing story.

Our last remaining blessings are "Blessed are the Rejected," "Blessed are the Fragile," "Blessed are Those Who See it Clearly," and "Blessed are Those Who Hope Still." This gives us an interesting movement, from rejection, to fragility and brokeness, to revelation, and finally to hope. Indeed, that is the journey of the Cross that leads us from the rejection of Jesus by everyone including his closest followers and friends, to his brokenness and death, to the revelation of God on the Cross to us, and finally to the light of Easter morning and Resurrection.

We are invited to remember this story each year. More so, we are commanded to remember. Jesus gives us a command to remember him, remember his story, not to forget, and to proclaim his death until he comes again. We don't do these things in the Church - our Sacred Triduum services, our very long Easter vigil service, all the pomp and circumstance - for the sake of ritual or to play Church. We do these to recall the horrifying and tragic events of Jesus' death, and to sit with the questions that the story raises, questions like: why do the innocent suffer or why do bad things happen to good people? Why is there evil in the world and what is God's answer to it? What does it mean for God to die?

Remembering is not always easy. Remembering often brings about pain. It's almost impossible to recall the good without recalling the bad, especially when things end. When we have a death of a loved one, or the end of a relationship, we often want to look back at the good times, but they are always mixed with grief, like the sour wine offered to Jesus as he hung on the cross.

The Japanese have a really interesting word that doesn't directly translate to English, "natsukashii." The word is a kind of nostalgia, it is a longing for remembering good days gone past. But it is always tinged with sadness for what is gone and cannot be again. What does the living Jesus remember when he thinks about his life? What does he remember from that night? Does he remember the good mixed with the bad, like having dinner with his friends? Or does he only remember his betrayal by a kiss? What did his Resurrection do to heal the wounds of his trauma, the experience of torture and death?

We may not be able to answer these questions today. In asking them, we are really longing not just to remember the past, but to know how this story impacts our story, how Jesus' healing heals our trauma. How does both the death and resurrection offer us new life, even now, as we walk this journey, as we walk this particular Holy Week toward the Cross with him? We also come to this Holy Week rejected, fragile, longing for clarity, and searching for hope. This story offers all of that to us and so much more, if we take this path with him, if we slow down and follow.

Holy Week is not a time for answers. Holy Week is a time to sit in the discontent, in the uncertainty, in the midst of the story as it unfolds. Join us this week as we walk, slowly, to the Cross on Friday. Our Holy Week continues Thursday night at 7:30pm with our Maundy Thursday service, and we hope to see you then.

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