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Gathering Our Pitchforks

Holy Week is a journey for all of us. We follow Jesus and the disciples into Jerusalem, to the upper room to celebrate the Passover, to Golgotha and the cross, and finally to the empty tomb.

In the midst of this journey at the end of Lent we are called once again to examine ourselves, to see ourselves for who we truly are. So often this is not a pretty picture. We are good at lying to ourselves, telling ourselves that everything is all right – that we’re just fine thank you very much – when in fact we’re not even close to fine. Sure we celebrate Palm Sunday waving greenery and singing together, “Hosanna in the highest!” But more often than not by the time we arrive home from worship we’ve turned our thought away from Jesus and on to other things, things we believe are more important.

On Palm Sunday I noted that the same people who celebrated Jesus on Sunday had gathered their torches and pitchforks like the village mob to execute him on Friday. Jesus didn’t conform to their idea of a Savior. He didn’t come in with guns blazing or massive armies to rid Jerusalem and Israel of Roman occupation. He didn’t come to set up the theocracy instituted under King David so many years ago. He didn’t come preaching of revenge or guerrilla insurrection, nor even about security.

Instead Jesus talked about lifting up the least and the vulnerable in society. He spoke words of comfort and healing to those who suffered, and spoke of justice to those in power. He told us to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us. He called the meek and poor, “blessed.” He wasn’t what the crowd, or we, think of when we think of a savior.

So by Friday when Pilate wondered aloud whether to pardon Jesus the peacemaker or Barabbas the insurrectionist they called for Barabbas. And so do we. We see the choice between peacemaking and armed security and we choose security. We see the choice between loving our enemies and hating them and we choose hate. We see the choice between caring for the poor and ignoring them and we choose to ignore. We choose Barabbas.

Holy Week reminds us of the times we gather our pitchforks and cry out for Barabbas and hand Jesus over to be crucified. It is also to remind us that by God’s grace the tomb is empty. By God’s grace our choices do not lead to our condemnation. By God’s grace we are welcomed to a new way of living and being, a way with the resurrected Christ – Jesus of Nazareth – at the center.

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