"Holy Week is when the s#*! hits the fan," a pastor and friend told me. It was not a gratuitous application of a cuss word. He was strategic in his use of a vulgar reference. From a pastoral perspective, it always seems that Lent and Holy Week come with an increase of funerals, crises, and tragedies.
In our church, Holy Week has come with plenty to hit the fan. My colleagues and I are responding to multiple traumas (on top of 14 services). A man in hospice care is breathing final breathes. A young father died of cancer, leaving a wife and two girls. A member was murdered over the weekend, her family left in shock and misery. A young man is in significant legal trouble. Add to these the list of ongoing issues: divorce, troubled youth, addiction, kids without a dad, unemployment . . .
S#*! The use of this word is strategic because Holy Week appears anything but holy. It is vulgar and violent. It is assaulting and abusive. Over the centuries, we have draped the gore with tidy traditions and pious practices. But even a cursery reading of Matthew's account reveals an inventory of the foul and filthy.
Abandonment by loved ones (26:56).
Stealthy plots by hateful rivals (26:34).
Betrayal by a friend ((26:16).
A man misunderstood (26:35).
Let down by those who were supposed to be loyal (26:41).
"Fake news" and falsely accused (26:59-60).
Public and brutal humiliation (27:27).
Insinuations of racism (27:29).
Torture and molestation (27:26:30).
Insults by trolls and naysayers (27:40-42).
This week was s#*! for our Lord. The pollution of all human history is summarized in the span of days. But for all the grotesque brutality of this week, it is not assigned a vulgar adjective. From the early days of Christianity, it has been given another four letter word: holy. They are holy days in spite of all the wickedness that humans accomplish.
It is a Holy Week because of the Holy One who walked through it. Our Lord is not repulsed by the stench of our s#*! . When everyone else would run out of the burning building, he charges in.
The gem for us is not simply that Jesus has experienced the filth we experience. (As if we have someone who understands so that we can all hold hands and wish each other well.) No, Christ has done more than experience it with us. He has experienced it for us.
In this holiest of weeks, be not dismayed by sin's foul stench. Our Lord has lugged its sickening weight. If you are knee deep in it - or neck deep - approach his cross. Call to the One who has borne every form of s#*! and say, "Jesus, will you bear a little more?"
"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows . . ." (Isaiah 53:4)