First Holy Week as unpredictable as today's events

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Unpredictable. The new normal, or at least it should be. The world around us and the world itself seem to be changing at a pace that is difficult to comprehend. The economy, global unrest, natural disasters, climate - all things seem to be in flux. Just when one seems to have a grip on things, they change.

Whether the change is happening at a faster pace than before I am not sure. Every generation can point to dramatic changes. I do think modern media let us know about more of the change that is taking place, so, at the very least, we are more aware than ever before.

Whether it is a winter that won't seem to give way to spring, or a budget debate that has more turns to it than a mystery story, every day we wonder when things will get back to normal.

Maybe they won't, maybe the new normal is that it is unpredictable.

Could it be that the new, unpredictable normal is better than the old predictable?

Today, many Christians around the world are beginning to celebrate Holy Week, a week that remembers and retraces the events of the last week of Jesus' pre-resurrection ministry. It was a week that began with His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, traveled the dark ally of human history to the Cross, and ends with hope and joy on Easter.

This week in the life of Jesus was anything but predictable - it was an unpredictable. Thank God the unpredictable happened, because it was in those unpredictable events that the way of salvation was opened up for us.

On the Sunday of that week, when Jesus entered Jerusalem hailed by the crowds, there was an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. The preacher who had been traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem entered that great city with the jubilation of the crowd. Who would have predicted that within days, He would be unjustly executed?

On Thursday, when Jesus sat at table with His disciples celebrating the Passover, who would have predicted that He'd be arrested within hours? Jesus knew, and announced that He'd be betrayed and denied, but none other present but Judas, His betrayer, would have expected it.

The disciples of Jesus, who steadfastly announced their loyalty and fidelity to Him, said they would stick by Him. Who would have predicted that those same men would not even stay awake one hour while Jesus prayed? Knowing He would walk the path to the cross alone, He surrendered himself to it and took that path.

Jesus, who had done all His Father had asked, was on that cross alone that Friday, with no one to help. With the crowds jeering and the soldiers dividing up His few earthly possessions, the unpredictable took place. Jesus cried out, "My God, my God why have you forsaken Me?" In that cry, the sin of the world was placed on Him and He experienced our deserved separation from God.

Three days later, the women unexpectedly found both an empty tomb and heard that Jesus had been resurrected. So unexpected was the news that the disciples didn't believe it. Yet the unexpected events of that week have made available to us peace with God and abundant life, now and forever! I hope this Holy Week, we all embrace the unexpected!

The Rev. Albert Gillin is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at catherinehicks@wwub.com.

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