Posted tagged ‘Holy Week’

Following a Laughing Jesus

February 2, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          February 2, 2020

                            

Christians follow the events of Jesus during Holy Week— his entry into Jerusalem, his last supper with his followers in the Upper Room, the betrayal, his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, arrest, trial, beating, and crucifixion. The Holy Week events go hand in hand with Jesus being referred to as “a man of sorrows.”

As an African-American preacher once preached, however, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”, and he laughed deep and delighted. His words brought grins to the faces of his congregation and shouts of “Hallelujah!”

Some followers of Jesus seem to have been convinced that Jesus was a man of sorrows from birth unto death, that he would have been described as a solemn child who never cracked a smile. It may be an excuse for the dreariness and dryness of their own spiritual journey. 

I remember in my first years of ministry having someone scold me about the fact that she had walked by the room where the Wednesday Night Youth Bible Study was being held and heard laughter. How could I teach the Bible to these kids and let them laugh? I wanted to ask her why her face always looked like she was sucking on a lemon…but I didn’t? I was the rookie and she was one of the church pillars, stone cold and unyielding. 

Scripture tells us that Jesus got upset with his disciples when they rebuked parents for trying to bring their children to Jesus. Children delighted Jesus. He said that the kingdom of heaven belonged to such as these. 

In my years of being a pastor I gave hundreds of “children’s sermons”. I can only remember there being one time when I didn’t laugh at something that one of the kids said in the midst of the story. That ONE TIME was the Sunday I had the ingeniously idiotic idea of doing two children’s sermons in the same worship gathering. During the second sermon it was like herding cats. The kids were crawling behind the communion table, trying to escape, and looking curiously at the musical instruments close at hand. It was…memorable! Now, years later I chuckle every time I remember it. 

I can not imagine Jesus being the man of sorrows as children gathered around him. 

In the seriousness of the world Christians need not just the vital image of the Suffering Servant nailed to the cross, but also the joyous Jesus who grinned in the hallelujah moments of His journey.

I find it interesting that science and psychology are doing more research about the effects of laughter. The findings have revealed how laughter relieves stress, boosts the immune system, and relaxes the muscles. 

It seems to me that Jesus-followers should laugh the loudest and longest. After all, we know that after Jesus’ death on that Friday his burial tomb was empty on Sunday and the stone had been rolled away. In essence, He had the last laugh!

Uncertain Tuesday

March 26, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   March 26, 2013

Tuesday of Holy Week is a day of uncertainty. It doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. Rather, it’s kind of like the finger beside the pinkie- it has purpose to hold my wedding band on, but I’m not sure what else it’s good for. But it’s there!

As a pilgrim on a journey, Palm Sunday is like the opening scenes of a movie, establishing the beginnings of the story, introducing the characters. Thursday and Friday are the days of tension, where the wringing of hands is taking place in the audience. Sunday is the climax, the victory. The forces of good triumph.

But Tuesday…is just there. It’s when the customer leaves the theater to get his popcorn bucket refilled. It’s in the middle, but not quite.

Tuesday is where most of us live. Our lives are full of triumph, tragedy, and resurrection, but most of our life is lived between the highs and lows. Most of our days are lived in the “not yets.”

Moses experienced triumphs and tragedies, but for many years before his burning bush experience we lived in the Tuesdays of life.

The Israelites had a Tuesday that lasted forty years.

David lived most of his childhood and adolescence in “Tuesdays.”

Tuesday is when we are most prone to wander. It is the time when we are most susceptible to losing our focus, or even doubting our focus.

Tuesday isn’t even “hump day.” It’s a day of discouragement. For some it’s the day of just going through the motions.

Holy Week Tuesday is like the child in the family that gets none of the attention, but is expected to be there.

In my walk with God I can pinpoint certain moments that stand out: my baptism on a Sunday night in August at the First Baptist Church of Zanesville, Ohio; youth retreats growing up at Camp Francis Asbury outside of Rio Grande, Ohio; being ordained to the ministry; hearing Tony Camplo speak during Spiritual Enrichment Week at Judson College. I could go on and on…but I won’t! Those events, those moments rise to the surface.

But most of my spiritual journey is not on the peak. In fact, it’s not in the deep valleys as well. It is the space between. Using the Bible as an analogy, it isn’t in the Gospels, but rather in Ecclesiastes, a period that is seemingly void of meaning. Honestly, getting through Ecclesiastes is like trying to read War and Peace in one sitting.

Spiritual journeys require perseverance, stamina, even flexibility. They require a willingness to get through the Tuesdays.