So today is shaping up to be even more difficult. As many of you know, I’m pretty sick still (as you may have noticed my absence from last week), which made leading service on this Palm/Passion Sunday already kind of hard (hard to talk through a congested face), but then after service I sit down at my desk and read about more violence in the world.
If you haven’t seen the numerous reports, it appears like Egyptian Coptic churches were targeted and bombed on this Palm Sunday, leaving roughly 44 dead and dozens more injured. This makes my heart drop. The pain of the families who are suffering loss, the shattering of the community that gathered to worship, and the sheer terror that an event like this evokes… it all seems just too much for today.
But while I don’t have answers as to why this happened or how it was even allowed, I think about what this week is about. We are starting Holy Week, this journey to the cross. We are reminded of a world suffering and in pain. We are reminded of how broken and evil we humans can be. We are reminded of how much in need all people are of God’s gracious forgiveness.
Out of all the resurrections accounts we get in the gospels, I think I like this one the best. Why? Because of the surprising nature of Jesus just showing up. I know, finding someone whom you thought to be dead alive again would be surprising regardless, but I like how Mary thought she was talking to the gardener when she was actually speaking to Jesus.
I like this because it shows us how Jesus can show up in the most unexpected of places and in the most unexpected of people. Mary, Peter, and the disciple whom Jesus loved expected to see Jesus where they last saw him, dead and in a tomb. They expected Jesus to be where they thought, how they thought, in the state that they thought. They expected Jesus to be predictable.
But instead, Jesus surprises them. Jesus surprises them by bringing healing in pain, peace in turmoil, and life in death. Jesus surprises them by not being confined in the little box where they left him. Jesus surprises them by being alive and well and present among them.
That was unexpected. But that is what happened.
And so my prayer for this Holy Week is for Jesus to surprise us. Surprise us in our emotions about the bombings that happened today, surprise us in our interactions with people around us, surprise us with healing in an area of our lives that we thought maybe would never be healed. I pray that we are surprised with peace, joy, and blessing beyond measure. I pray that we are surprised to see the face of Jesus somewhere in this most holy of weeks where we least expect to.
Our God is a surprising God. But I know our God is with us through our pain and our sorrow and surprises us by doing something new to help us heal and be made whole.
May God have mercy on us all, and may God’s hand of peace rest upon Egypt and in all the world.
Peace be with you all.