Reflections on Holy Week

Christianity is my home tradition, so this week is an important one. I’ve written short reflections on social media that I’ll share in bulk here.

Palm Sunday

When for Christians our King rides in on a humble donkey and chooses to use his temporary fame to call out the injustices of his own religion exhibiting how real power works on the behalf of others even if it’s costly.

Mural by Domingo de Ramos, José Inoa

Maundy Thursday

Always appreciate He Qi’s art. Here’s his Maundy Thursday piece with Jesus washing Peter’s feet.

Good Friday

Jesus’ death can be one of the most confusing parts of the Gospel, especially when it’s presented dogmatically through the lens of a single atonement theory. Some of the ideas that have helped me rethink the meaning of Good Friday so that it’s richer and more textured include:

– Some of what I’ve heard about David M. Moffitt’s work on resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which emphasizes the resurrected Jesus’ role as a human who has experienced death and who mediates for us as a priest in the divine presence

– Chris Haw’s proposal that we can look at the crucifixion not primarily as an offering from humans to a wrathful, violent god that needs to be satisfied but from a god seeking reconciliation with a wrathful, violent humanity who didn’t know what to do with Jesus other than kill him and people like him

– James Cone’s “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” which repositions the crucifixion as an example of what majority violence and empire does to the oppressed and marginalized—by comparing crucifixions and the lynching of Black Americans—showing god as being on the side of the latter

– Run the Jewel’s “a few words for the firing squad”which has these lines that I can’t help but hear through Cone’s theology, which make me think of Good Friday every time I hear them from Killer Mike: “This is for the do-gooders that the no-gooders used and then abused/For the truth tellers tied to the whippin’ post, left beaten, battered, bruised/For the ones whose body hung from a tree like a piece of strange fruit”

Holy Saturday

There’s no day on the ecclesial calendar more inviting to those of us with skeptical dispositions. Even the most confident apologists are asked to pause and reflect on the possibility that the crucifixion was the last word. On this day, St. Peter had no more confidence than St. Thomas. Death wins again. And the disappointment of the disciples on the road to Emmaus become the disappointment of all Christians, at least for one day: “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.”

Icon: The Harrowing of Hell

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