Holy Week, perhaps like no other week in the Christian calendar, serves as a poignant reminder of how severely we have diminished the story of Christ...and an invitation back into the unfolding drama of His redemption.
Throughout their history, the people of God have always had a living faith. That is, their lives were led by the sacred rhythms of their story in His story. Israel lived her story through sacrifices, feasts, and remembrances, all events that invited them to live out what God had done for them in an act of faithful living. The early church gathered in its own rhythms, breaking bread together as in the Upper Room, gathering their resources in an offering, living out the Passion of the Christ in the new Passover, the same kinds of Holy events that we are invited into this week.
But somewhere along the way, perhaps in the vein of a modernism that determined that all things could be rationally explained and empirically studied, the contemporary church shifted from the living out of a living faith into something much less - the learning, perhaps, of it.
For years, we have preached, taught, lectured, and written about God, as though to know Him is the same as to know anything else in the world. We have said that we could study Him the way that we study, say, history or mathematics. We have said that we could study ourselves as His people the way that we study any anthropology. We have invested a great number of our energies in knowing all that we can about Him, though somewhere along the way, we have forgotten simply to know Him.
And then, in reaction to such a dramatic shift in our theology of knowing, we attempted to recapture some of what we had lost by deciding that perhaps God was not best lectured and preached and taught and written, but that perhaps He should be done. That is, we can "do" God in the same way that we "do" church or "do" our grocery shopping or "do" our chores. So in an attempt to bring back the living aspect of our faith, we brought in a doing element of it, and today, there are all kinds of things we can (and do) do. Yet we are still not experiencing it.
This is the kind of approach that I cautioned against yesterday. We cannot allow our faith to be something else that we "do," just one more thing on a long list of tasks to be completed, one more activity on our resumes. We cannot let it be that we go to church in the same way that we go to the grocery store or the gas station or the bank or the doctor, as though our mere participation in the activity of the church or the Christian faith is somehow a justification for its existence...or our identification with it.
There's something in us that understands this. There has to be, or we would not have turned our faith into an act of doing; we would have been content with the mere knowing of God. But we are not. For somewhere, we know that the real knowing of God is the loving of Him (and the loving by Him) and the loving of Him is the living of Him.
We must have a living faith.
That is the greatest blessing of this Holy Week.
It is a week that is meant to be lived. It is one that requires experiencing. There can be no mere sentimentality about the Cross, not if we are truly to be the people of God. No, there must be a loving of it. And if there is to be a loving, there must be a living. And if to be a living, there must be an experiencing.
There are all kinds of things to "do" this Holy Week - bread to break, prayers to observe, tears to weep, silences to mourn, graves to investigate, hopes to hold onto, but if the noise and the dust and the dirt of Jerusalem doesn't catch in your throat, you have not really done anything. You have been busy, but you have not been present.
Be present. Get into the story. Live into the living Lord on this amazing week in which He has given us the opportunity to truly live in both remembrance and anticipation by actually being there, being right there with Him...in the Upper Room, in the Garden, on the Cross, in the grave, on the road. There is this week a Christ to be lived in His dying; let us never forget that.
For the people of God have always been those living His story, not those merely learning it.