Photo: Blue Orange Studio
Beginning with a dramatic donkey ride on Sunday, Jesus’ presence in Jerusalem provoked response. Those with power—religious, political—were profoundly worried. He tangled publicly with lawyers about taxes and Caesar and overturned the tables of the moneychangers. They looked for a way to arrest him.
But crowds surrounded him, hearing his proclamation of another kingdom—God’s kingdom—and seeing that kingdom enacted as the lame walked and the blind saw. A community of hope gathered around this young rabbi, a people who believed that God was doing something new in the ministry of Jesus, and for whom that newness promised to break open the hard shell of inevitability that surrounded and constrained their lives.
The authorities needed to find Jesus on his own, not surrounded by the crowds. They hired Judas, who betrayed Jesus to them in the dark solitude of a garden. A speedy trial, a hasty sentence from a frightened governor, a slow, painful death and a cold tomb. “That’s how we solve problems around here.”
Crowds scatter, disciples hide and leave town; women weep and wait. A Sabbath comes and goes. At Sunday’s dawn, the women set out for the tomb. Stories begin: Mary hears her name spoken in love; a wounded intruder breathes peace into a room full of fear; Cleopas and his companion encounter a mysterious stranger who breaks bread like that in their Emmaus home. A fleeting thought, a whisper, quiet words, then growing into acclamation, song and celebration: “He is risen!”
We who desire healing for ourselves and for our world, who long for a future to break through the shell of inevitability that surrounds and constrains our lives, we who witness first-hand and on the TV news the hard relentless truth that power and death collude to make a world of fear and despair—we give thanks for the wounded intruder who breathes peace into fear-full rooms, who breaks bread like that in houses of worship and hospitality, who speaks our name in love. A fleeting thought, a whisper, quiet words, then growing into acclamation, song and celebration: “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” “The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!”
The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson is general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.