During the season of Lent we’ve been exploring the idea that followers of Jesus are called to live what Michael Frost calls “Questionable Lives.” He explains, in his book Surprise the World, that Christians are called to live in such a way that those around them, who do not yet believe in or follow Jesus, are surprised by the things that their Christian neighbours do, and as a result are compelled to ask them questions about why they do what they do. These questions, in turn, create opportunities for Christians to share their faith in Jesus with their neighbours in a way that is natural and personal.
So far, we’ve explored 4 of the ‘questionable’ habits that Frost focuses on in his book: 1. Blessing others, 2. Eating with others, 3. Listening for the prompting of the Spirit, and 4. Learning Jesus. This Sunday we’ll be looking at the 5th habit, which is to practice seeing ourselves as Sent.
But that’s not all we’ll be doing this Sunday. We’ll also be starting our journey through Holy Week to Easter by remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem just days before his crucifixion and death.
The approach of Holy Week and Easter has gotten me thinking a lot about the reasons behind our Holy Week and Easter traditions, and which of these traditions are really ‘questionable’ in the way Michael Frost proposes.
We may wonder, for example, why exactly people decorate and hunt for Easter eggs, but these are such popular and obviously fun traditions that they don’t tend to raise many questions for people.
Far more unusual to people (at least these days), and therefore questionable, are traditions like waving palm crosses on Palm Sunday, foot washing on Maundy Thursday, time spent in solemn reflection on Good Friday, praying and singing in the dark on Holy Saturday, and shouts of “Alleluia! The Lord is risen!” on Resurrection Sunday. If our neighbours could see us doing these things they’d probably have all kinds of questions for us.
Part of the answer to why we do these things is because they are traditions that have been passed down to us and which many of us have observed every year since we were very young. But there are deeper reasons for these traditions.
When observed with an openness to the presence and working of the Holy Spirit, these traditions offer us the opportunity to enter into the mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We were not there when these things happened, but when we believe that it was for us that Jesus lived and died and rose again, these traditions offer us the chance to participate in these ancient and mysterious events.
And by participating, not just in these traditions, but mystically in the events to which they point, our sense and understanding of what God has accomplished in Jesus is enriched and deepened, and we are given a new appreciation for the hope and promise of salvation.
I hope you will be able to join us this Holy Week and Easter, if not in body then in the Spirit, as we observe these traditions, seek to enter the mysteries to which they point, and, by God’s grace, deepen our rootedness in His power to save.
These brothers and business partners are each involved with numerous organizations and initiatives in this community and beyond. Together, they represent decades of volunteer commitment and leadership that has helped advance the Greater Saint John community. Both have served on a variety of boards and have been involved with a number of projects that quietly moved our community forward.
The Red Triangle Award Gala will be held on Thursday, April 12 at 6:30pm at the Saint John Regional Y. Tickets can be purchased online at www.saintjohny.ymca.com , at the front desk of the Y or by phoning 634-4922.