It’s Maundy Thursday evening, and as usual it finds me in reflective mood. Holy Week began on Palm Sunday, but the passion narrative starts here, with Jesus sharing a final meal with his disciples before heading out into the darkness, knowing that he walks towards those who will capture and kill him. To draw on the language of the Passover meal, this night is different from all other nights, and I feel that difference somewhere deep within.
I get a lot of guilt at Easter, and it has nothing to do with eating too much chocolate. It’s not even entirely to do with the stark reminder that Jesus suffered unimaginable pain because the world I am so much a part of had gone so horribly wrong. It comes instead from a sense that I am doing Easter wrong.
The earth shattering significance of the cross and the tomb weighs so heavily on me that I feel I should be marking every minute of it, and from Thursday to Sunday I feel guilty for every moment not spent in prayer and contemplation.
It’s almost as if the cosmic event is being reenacted somewhere, and I feel an echo of the confusion and grief of the disciples, and suddenly the normal things of my everyday feel grossly inappropriate. How can I go to the park while my lord hangs on the cross, or pop to the shops as he lays in the tomb?
And yet at the same time, I know how the story ends, and so I find myself dipping in and out without actually living it. I think that’s why I found the Easter episodes of Rev so affecting, because for three days I didn’t know if the resurrection would come. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, do try and watch the end of the third series of Rev.)
The whole world should stop and mourn for what it has become and what its creator has done to redeem it. That’s what happened on that first Good Friday, when the earth shook and the sky went dark. I must confess to an immense disappointment each year when the hours of the cross end and that doesn’t happen, and more than once I have had to fight back the urge to stand in the middle of the high street and scream out ‘don’t you know what just happened?’
Perhaps it’s just that my upbringing in a more liturgical and sacramental tradition has left an indelible mark on me, and I need words and actions to mark the time. Or perhaps I need to find a way of doing Easter better, a way that answers rather than stifles the deep cry of my heart. Or perhaps this sense of being disturbed is exactly what I need on this night like no other, and I must surrender to it and see where it takes me.