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Standing in the Gap

I am glad I wasn’t one of those first disciples. I can’t imagine journeying with Christ through what we call Holy Week without knowing the end of the story. Can you imagine thinking that the cross was the end?

Can you imagine wondering why someone who has within him the power to control the wind, to heal diseases, and to cast out demons meekly submits to torture? Or that the person you believed would be your Savior seemingly gives up and allows himself to be killed? I’m glad I wasn’t one of those first disciples. What fear, what sorrow, what hopelessness, what confusion must have filled their hearts and minds.

New Testament Christians have never experienced the cross without the knowledge of Easter. So how does Easter figure in our conscience, in our theology, in our day-to-day living? To quote the poetry of J. M. Crum: “When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain, [Christ’s] touch can call us back to life again” (“Now the Green Blade Rises” LUYH 203).

When poets and hymn writers try to communicate the wonder of Easter, they choose words like “joy,” “hope,” and “light”—words that conjure up images of Christmas cards and decorations, like the wreath above my mantle with “JOY” all gold and glittery in its center. But Easter is more than that.

Easter is the firstfruit, the small taste of triumph, a signpost toward the future resurrection when all will be made new.

 

It’s a stop on the journey from

Sorrow to JOY
Despair to HOPE
Darkness to LIGHT
Confusion to CERTAINTY
Unbelief to FAITH
Death to LIFE

Easter is the beginning of a “life which cannot die” (Cyril Allington, “Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing” LUYH 184). It’s a part of each Christian’s testimony. It is the firstfruit, the small taste of triumph, a signpost toward the future resurrection when all will be made new. In the Great Story, it is the climax. It is when we know, unlike the disciples on Good Friday, that all will be well.

However, at Easter the story is far from complete. Brain Wren reminds us that “in every insult, rift and war, where color, scorn, or wealth divide, Christ suffers still, yet loves the more, and lives, where even hope has died” (Brian A. Wren, “Christ Is Alive! Let Christians Sing” LUYH 206). Christians are called to stand with Christ in the gap between

Fear and ASSURANCE
Injustice and JUSTICE
Hate and LOVE
Sickness and HEALING
Loss and TRIUMPH
Suffering and EXALTATION
Guilt and GRACE

This issue of Reformed Worship includes a significant number of creative readings and dramas. It makes sense that drama is the form we often choose to convey the story of Good Friday and Easter. Our Lenten and Holy Week worship can’t just be a dry recitation of historical fact. The story is too big, too dramatic, to be held in check.

We, the people of Easter, who know the ending of the Story, ought to fill the telling of that story with suspense and anticipation, with hope, and with yearning for the fulfillment of all the promise that Easter contains as we stand in the gap.