This morning our congregation celebrated Palm Sunday with singing from our smaller ones and the passion reading done by some of our high school youth. It felt good not only to have their involvement in the liturgy, but to have their particular voices in the midst of this cycle which can feel so familiar to those of us who are not so young. Here it is the fifth year of the war, and we are still praying for peace. Here it is, Holy Week again, and the papers are still full of scandals. Here it is, another election year, and we know that our hopes ultimately cannot rest in political leaders. But somehow these young voices do bring something new, something hopeful which is not like all the other years.
I'm not preaching Easter this year -- just Good Friday. So my working kernel of thought for the week is this: the story of Jesus' passion shows us how quickly we want to identify with the powerful, and how quickly that desire makes us betray Jesus. The story doesn't give us many alternatives: either we call for Jesus' crucifixion, or we are with him in suffering and death. Either we shout out "save yourself!" or we humbly suffer on our own cross and say, "Jesus remember me." Either we stand by a condemned man and take his own mother into our care, or we deny that we ever knew him at all.
I'd like to think there is more middle ground, that there can be more innocent bystanders. But the Gospel stories don't really offer us that kind of alternative. The cross forces us to look at our world and see where Jesus really is -- suffering, powerless, alone -- and decide if we will be with him.