When You’re Kinda Struggling Through Holy Week — and don’t feel holy at all

http://annvoskamp.com/2017/04/when-youre-kinda-struggling-through-holy-week-and-dont-feel-holy-at-all/

So, my Grandma Ruth, she told me if you found a man who’d weep over a story — that was a man you could marry.

The morning of Palm Sunday, the porridge boils over and burns on the stove.

A girl here tries on three dresses, slumps into the kitchen and declares she has nothing to wear. A younger girl here can’t find her something for her hair — only this mangled bow one that’s missing the barrette. Caleb points out that someone’s dropped their orange peels all down the back garage steps.

I’m strangling down a frustrated rant.

Malakai, reaching for milk for his porridge, slips off his chair and splits his lip right open on the edge of the table.

There is blood dripping on our kitchen floor on Palm Sunday — for  real.

And on the kitchen table, there’s a bent silhouette carrying a cross.

He’s nearing the Story’s climax.

Twice, Jesus weeps in the Story.      

When He saw where death had laid out Lazarus, when he saw his friend’s tomb, when he stood with the crying Mary, His Spirit moved like over the face of the waters, and water ran down the face of God.

That’s what Grandma had said: A man who can break down and cry — is man who will break open his heart to let your heart in. 

Jesus wept.

He had loved Lazarus.

Our God is the God to find comfort in because ours is the God who cries… the God tender enough to break right open and let His heart run liquid and He is the river of life because He knows our heart streams. One day He will wipe all tears away because He knows how the weeping feel:  He has loved us.

I hold a crying Malakai and his bloody lip on a messy Palm Sunday and our tears and love mingles with God’s.

Palm Sunday —  the second time in the Story when the pain breaks Him and when the palm branches wave, our God weeps:  When Jesus approached Jerusalem, “he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace…”

If only you had known what would bring you peace…

We want more comfort — and He offers us a Cross.
We want more position — and He offers us purpose.
We want more ease — and He offers us eternity.

God cries because His people cry for things that won’t bring them more peace.

The people that praise Him quiet on Palm Sunday on the way into the city — are the same crowd that cry “Crucify” loud on Good Friday when it doesn’t go their way.

[Don’t believe things can change? Just look at Palm Sunday — to Good Friday — to Resurrection Sunday. Always believe, always keep hoping — things can change.]

And yeah — I can be the woman who praises Him quiet when it goes my way — and who complains loud when it doesn’t.

This is what happens when God doesn’t meet expectations. When God doesn’t conform to hopes, someone always goes looking for a hammer.

I can bang my frustration loud.

The Pastor would say it on Sunday — that the people’s Hosanna was a cry that literally meant “Save us! Save us!

Jesus weeps because we don’t know the peace that will save us. What brings us more peace is always more praise.

There are days when Christ comes to me in ways that look as lowly as coming on a donkey and I’m the fool who doesn’t recognize how God comes.

God enters every moment the way He chooses and this is always the choice: wave a palm or a hammer.

How many times have I wondered how they could throw down their garments before Him on Sunday and then throw their fists at Him on Friday? But I’m the one in the front row:

If our thanksgiving is fickle, then it turns out that our faith is fickle.

I stroke Malakai’s forehead. Press mine to his.

“Can we just go get up and try again, Mama?” Malakai murmurs it, takes the cloth from his lip and I see the wound. Wipe his wet cheek.

I hold him. Just hold him long at the beginning of Holy Week, with these tears on the fingertips. Ready for praise on the lips. Keeping company with the Christ who cries, His heart broken wide open to let us in.

And this Holy Week, there’s a woman who wipes the drool from her father’s chin and carries him down the hall to the toilet.

And there’s a mother who lays down bits of her singular life to wash the bowls and the underwear of the teenager calling her a whore.

And there’s a missionary far away from a microphone or a spotlight, who bends in a jungle, in a brothel, in a slum, in a no-name, unseen part of the globe, and nobody applauds.

Are the realest sacrifices of praise not the ones shouted at the beginning of Holy Week, but the secret, sacred rites, that are gifts of praise that are given back to Him, gifts to Him and the world, offered with no thought of return on investment — just given when the only spotlight is His light — and your one flaming heart?

Maybe Holy Week is the week you ask yourself:

Who’s defining the terms when it’s an honor to be awarded by people

and a sacrifice to be called by God?

Maybe the call of Holy Week — isn’t so much about trying to carry your Cross across a lit stage… but to carry your daily Cross down the Via Dolorosa, to take the broken way of suffering.

Maybe the best way to let your life be a genuine Hosanna to Him — is to live given in places where it’d be easy for no hosannas to ever be sung. 

The word “altar” comes from the Latin ‘altus’ meaning high — because real altars are not where crowds see and applaud the sacrifice. But real altars and sacrifice are where only Him in the Highest Heaven sees.

And I nod to our boy at the beginning of Holy Week, “Yes, yes… let’s — try again.” And the kid slides off my lap.

And there’s this walking together in into Holy Week, daring to walk with this brazen, unwavering thanks to Him that bends low enough to serve in hidden ways.

The way to worship Christ is more than raising your hands like you’re waving palm branches — it’s stretching your arms out like you’re formed like a Cross.

Cruciform. 

True worship isn’t formed like a hand-waving crowd — true worship is formed cruciform. 

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday — and the only way to live a holy life is with palms open wide. To live given and hidden and surrendered — cross-formed. Cruciform. 

The silhouette of Christ there on the table, He carries a cross, leans forward like He’s leaning into a story, leaning into a glory story that could be ours.

Who doesn’t want choke up, about weep, that we could marry our vision to His, our hearts to His?

 

 


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