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(written for the Lenten Reflection book of Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church, San Francisco)

Holy Week Begins and Ends

Matthew 21: 1-11 and Matthew 27: 11-54

The story arc of the week is dramatic. It begins in grassroots delight as Jesus rides into Jerusalem amidst the crowds cheering, a parade that seems so hopeful and promising. It ends in cowardly and cruel crucifixion of the One that had been celebrated just six days before. Light and darkness in one short week.

So much of our lives consist of the juxtaposition of Light and Darkness. We want to live as children of the Light, but so much Darkness clutters the landscape on a regular basis. A refund check arrives in the same mail as an outstanding bill. A bitter confrontation with a co-worker is followed by as affirming encounter with someone in the community. A crushing election result coexists with an energizing onrush of those who are called and willing to resist, to work for justice and mercy for all. The Holy One is present in all of it.

Janet Morley in her wonderful litany, “For the Darkness of Waiting,” writes:

For the darkness of waiting

       of not knowing what is to come

       of staying ready and quiet and attentive,

       we praise you O God


       For the darkness and the light

       are both alike to you.                 (All Desires Known, 1988)

What we witness in Jesus in these texts is that he remained aware of the Mystery we call God both in Light and in the Dark. Whether he was being celebrated or reviled, he never forgot that he belonged to God, and that he was navigating this journey accompanied by the Holy.

I can lose sight of that connection, sometimes in great elation, when I think it is all about me and my wonderfulness; or in great pain and grief, when I lose hope that it will ever end. Jesus walks in Mystery with persistence and grace.

In this Holy Week

-where do I see God’s presence in the celebrations and successes in my life? Do I remember to look?

-how do I witness Holy Presence in times of excruciating pain and disappointment?

-can I learn to trust in the darkness of waiting that in Mystery the Light will shine?

Janet Morley prays:

For the darkness of hoping

       in a world that longs for you,

       for the wrestling and the laboring of all creation

       for wholeness and justice and freedom,

       we praise you O God.


       For the darkness and the light

       Are both alike to you.