As a Christian, I am now three days deep into the holiest of seasons – Holy Week and Easter. Much of the world, Christian and non-Christian, celebrates Christmas. The latter is a Christian’s celebration of the Incarnation, when God came in the flesh and to borrow Eugene Peterson’s rendition, “took up residence in the neighborhood.” But this season has deeper meaning for Christians because it celebrates His ultimate purpose, to reconcile us to God through his death on the Cross and to usher us into new life as He emerges from the Tomb on Easter morning.
The planet He had created was in a self-destructive mess,its inhabitants having chosen to essentially be their own god. Those inhabitants were destined for a death that would eternally separate them from His love, for a hell far more hopeless than the hell they were making for themselves here on earth. Christ’s incarnation was ultimately the divine intervention when God chose mercy over judgment, trading his righteousness for our depravity. He died so that we might live.
I cannot go through Holy Week mindlessly humming songs of happiness like so many ubiquitous Christmas carols sung by secularized choirs that barely have a clue. In one sense, I find it hard to sing anything except John Newton’s haunting words of liberation, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”
Holy Week is really about the gift of God, the gift of grace undeserved and often unappreciated. A second chance for men and women like me who admit our brokenness and confess our need for God’s forgiveness. It is a gift that God does not idly disperse like some happy benevolence promotion on Oprah. It is a gift that cost the price of His Son’s life. He died so that we might live.
(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn