I love a parade! In fact, I love pageantry in many of its forms.
Like many people, one of the reasons I enjoy college and high school football over some others is because of the pageantry involved. The traditions and the color combine with the excitement and the passion, making for a dramatic time. When the band makes its entrance, or when the spectators shout the school's most popular cheer, energy fills the air.
For many, the Rose Bowl remains the favorite of the College Bowl Games, not just because it is the oldest, but because it has retained the pageantry with its parade and traditional half-time show provided by the marching bands.
At the end of the day, there is still a game to be played, and that is what the pageantry is supposed to lead to - the game - the event around which the stadiums are built, for which the tickets are sold, and of course, the teams have practiced for countless hours in preparation. Even now, these teams have begun their spring practices, and millions of college football fans are awaiting and preparing in their own way for the beginning of the college football season, though it will not start until August.
Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week - a week to remember the most dramatic and powerful seven days in all of human history, when Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world, where He took on Himself sin and shame and rejection. That week, which began with pageantry and contained a betrayal, a false trial, and a crucifixion, would culminate with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the most glorious event in all human history, which defines all human activity since.
It is true that my teachers and other wise people in my life have cautioned me against using words like all and most and always. These words, when used incorrectly, can overstate reality. In the previous paragraph, I have intentionally used these exclusive words, because when it comes to this week in human history, I find them to be accurate. It is precisely because this week is so extraordinary and its activities are so exclusive that one's opinions about them matter so much … whether or not these excusive claims are true.
At the same time, this week is filled with questions and soul searching. One of my favorite people in human history is Jesus' apostle, Thomas. I appreciate him so much because he asks the questions we all have, or at least should. He was often willing to state what I presume was on the mind of all the disciples. Take Thursday night of Holy Week for example. Jesus was with His disciples and has just told them that they knew the way to the place where He was going.
Thomas courageously asked, "Lord we do not know where You are going; how can we know the way?"
Jesus responds, "I am the way, the truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me."
I appreciate this exchange because it contains the dichotomy of Holy Week. It contains the questions so many in the world continue to ask. It reveals the ponderings of a person seeking to know more and be faithful and the certainty of the One who knew He was the only way.
This Holy Week, I hope that each person is willing to come with these questions. I hope we are willing to ask the tough questions of this week. Are the events it recalls really that monumental? Are they really that dramatic? Are they really the most pivotal events in human history?
As one who has asked those hard questions and come to the other end saying, "Yes, it is the most impactful week in all human history," I am hopeful others will ask them with the attitude of Thomas, who let us know not only that every honest question is appropriate, but also that these questions have answers.
This Holy Week, I hope that all of us both enjoy the pageantry the week has to offer and remember that in the end, it's all about the events of the original Holy Week - the most dramatic events in all human history!
The Rev. Albert Gillin is senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Contact him at 509-525-1093 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.