Friday, April 10, 2009
The Passion Week
That's hubba, hubba stuff, right? What does that have to do with what Jesus went through during his last week? Turns out that our English word "passion" comes from the Greek word, pathos. Pathos, like many words, can have more than one meaning. One meaning referrs to something suffered, and in this sense the "passion of Jesus" refers to the suffering that he endured. Through the years passion morphed into the additional meaning of strong emotions - probably because enduring strong suffering involves strong emotions as well. And if Jesus was willing to suffer so much for us, he must have strong emotions, feelings, passions for us.
Things don't get a lot busier around the church than during Holy Week, Passion Week. There's the Good Friday service, the Egg Hunt on Saturday morning, and Easter festivities. It seems that there's always an extra need during the week as well. But for some reason I'm not feeling overwhelmed this time. It could be denial about all I still have to do; that's a strong possibility. Or maybe God has simply given me a bit of extra peace. I prefer that explanation.
For the sermon this Easter I decided to preach on the least popular account of Jesus' resurrection - Mark's. Mark's gospel ends in a very unsatisfying way. Like a movie ending that doesn't complete things as you wished. Gibson's Passion of the Christ captured this feeling very well, I thought. It leaves you wanting more, sensing that so much more must have happened - and why wasn't it conveyed better?!
In Mark 16, the women come to the tomb with their spice rack to freshen things up around the stinky tomb. But an angel disguised as a guy in white is there to greet them and he gives them the coolest news: "Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him." There's a bit more, but that's pretty much it. The part in our bibles that comes after this section was most likely added years or decades later by someone who wanted to complete the scene in a more satisfying way. It used to really bug me that we don't have more in Mark. But the truth is, we don't need more. And Mark must have ended it there for a very good reason. What was it? What do you think?
That's what we'll explore this Sunday for Easter. - Curtis
PS: NT Wright provides a scholarly look at resurrection in the 1st century. Go here if you dare!