System upset, then and now

Photo by Daniel Tafjord on Unsplash

During a sacred meal with his friends, the rabbi mixed-up the ritual. When he stood and put a towel around his waste and carried a bowl of water across the room, he caused confusion. His followers exchanged glances, but stayed quiet, not asking questions. They stared as he knelt before the man with the longest beard and then gently removed his sandals. Then the rabbi put his friend’s foot in the bowl of water and washed away the grime and dust with his gentle hands. Foot after foot, friend after friend, he moved around the room and lovingly cared for his friends. Some welcomed it. Others felt awkward, uncomfortable. Some thought that it all felt backward, that they would rather serve him. Except for Peter, no one said a word. All were stunned. Many hearts vibrated with love and wonder.

This was unexpected. No one was prepared for this. No one knew what to do.  

The next day, the rabbi’s followers watch as he is mocked and beaten and forced to carry a heavy crossbeam across town. They walk with him towards Golgatha, their bodies tense with frustration, discomfort and confusion. Their tired minds and bodies are tempted to call it quits, to pretend they don’t know him and leave the ugly scene. They don’t understand, and they don’t want to see him treated this way. Why is he accepting this brutality? Why isn’t he defending himself or fighting back? Why did they put their hopes in him? 

This was unexpected. No one was prepared for this. No one knew what to do.  

He is stripped naked, humiliated even more. All can see that his skin is caked with dirt, sweat, blood. His body is beaten into the wood and the guards press his palms down. They beat sharp, long nails through his skin, his muscles. His flesh tears, bruises, bleeds. His screams echo across the valley, through the stone streets. His body tremors with pain. His feet are nailed down and his blood stains the wood. This is ugly and awful, his friends can’t stand to see, don’t want to watch him die. Some leave, their bodies weary with grief, their minds full of questions and doubts. Why did they believe in him? Was it all a mistake? Was it all for nothing? 

This was unexpected. No one was prepared for this. No one knew what to do.  

Early in the morning three days later, two of his friends–two women both named Mary–rush to his tomb. The ground shakes and an angel rolls back the stone closing the tomb, then he sits on the stone and waits for the women. The men guarding the tomb faint with their shock. The angel tells the women to look inside the tomb and see that the rabbi was raised from the dead. He is going to Galilee, go tell the others, he says. The woman are afraid–and yet excited, joyful. They run to tell their friends. On the way, the rabbi meets them and says hello, holds them close. They fall to the ground and weep with joy, soaking his feet, seeing his wounds. Could this be how he upsets the system? By showing others that even death can’t stop him? That even death can’t stop his love and this movement he began? 

This was unexpected. No one was prepared for this. No one knew what to do.  

But it was clear that everything would change. Now they knew that nothing could ever be the same. 

Around the world, streets stand still. Cars aren’t moving. Sidewalks are clear. Because of the power of an invisible might–the highly contagious coronavirus—many people are stuck in their homes with no place to go. Plans are canceled and income is gone. Anxieties are heightened. Hearts are broken and grief is heavy. Loneliness makes us sick. We are lost and terrified. 

This is a great upset to the system, everything is out of order. How we spend our time and our money: everything is different. We aren’t busy in the same way, we aren’t rushing and living by our human-made agendas as much any more. We are all challenged to connect with God and community in whole new ways, to pray differently. By this pause, by this separation, we are being made new. We are seeing society with new eyes. We are seeing what matters. We are seeing the truth. We are given a chance to decide how to reconstruct our society, how to change our lives.

This was unexpected. No one was prepared for this. No one knows what to do. But it is clear that everything is changing, that we will never be the same again.  

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  1. Thank you Julia for sharing your thoughts. It is truly an unusual Holy Week for all of us. I have shared this with my husband, who like myself, is trying ( as seniors) to stay home. I liked your lines about Good Friday and COVID19 being unexpected and no one was prepared. We are all living in a new reality. We in our home are staying updated with the media ( a bit), but also remembering to seek calmness and strength with prayer. Easter has not been cancelled, but will be lived in our hearts and spirits. Blessings on all your do. Mary and Bob Hards

  2. Thank you, but are you okay?

    This morning as I went to search for something in the bible, it fell open to this (without a string or marker):

    Psalm 107: The caption is “God the Savior of Those in Distress”

    I have read Verses 1-9 several times and will do so again.