The other day I was listening to an audiobook in which the author was talking about a member of their church who posed a question I believe is important for all of us to ask. The member, observing that the liturgy, sermons, prayers, hymns, and topics in Bible studies in their church too often focused on humanity’s brokenness, asked the pastor, “But where is the victory?” Dear friends, I can’t imagine a better clarifying question for us to consider in Holy Week.
As we move through the passion narrative we symbolically move with Jesus to the cross. On Palm Sunday we journeyed with Jesus as he triumphantly entered the city gates of Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday we will journey with Jesus as he shares a last Passover meal with his disciples before his death. On Good Friday we will journey with Jesus through the events that led to his death on the cross. The journey will shine a light on the brutality and brokenness of humanity. Yet, let us not forget where the Holy Week journey ultimately leads.
It does not leave us in the darkness of despair. Even death cannot triumph over the victorious power of the Risen Christ. Christ is victorious over all those who mistakenly thought they could extinguish his light. Christ is victorious over all those who fear the love he embodies, for they know it has the power to bring down empires built on oppression, hatred, and greed. Christ is victorious over all brutality and brokenness of humanity and this world.
On Easter Sunday we will journey with Jesus to the stone that was rolled away from what was a sealed tomb. We will journey with Jesus in the escape from the fate of death itself. We will journey with Jesus in witnessing to others how one can live through unimaginable pain with the scars to prove it. We will journey with Jesus remembering that nothing can defeat the power of God.
Yet, this is more than a journey of storytelling and imagination, it is a journey of faith. It is our faith as a people who believe in, trust in, and live in the power of the resurrection. Christ’s triumph was not meant for himself alone. Christ’s story is our story. Christ’s power is our power. Christ’s victory is our victory.
We are the beneficiaries of Christ’s resurrection. The brutality and brokenness of this world does not have the last word in our lives. Living in a constant state of feeling hopeless or beaten down is not our fate. Yes, life has its troubles, but in Jesus Christ, we can meet them and defeat them. Or can learn to live with the things that momentarily can’t be changed. We can practice patient endurance, understanding, and trust that this is not the end of the story.
Our Easter celebrations are not meant to be just one hour, one day, or even one season of the year. Easter is a reminder of who we are through the power of the Risen Christ. In all times and all seasons, may we remind ourselves to look for the answer to the question, “But where is the victory?”
Blessings, Rev. Shana Johnson, ISC Conference Minister