A Gathering Storm…


It is Wednesday of Holy Week as I write this. Two days from the commemoration of the day Jesus died on a cross. I am sitting in my pick-up in a parking lot at a large park just outside the city where I live. The parking spot I have chosen overlooks a man-made lake. It has been cloudy all day today, but now the clouds are breaking up, and the sun is setting at my back. There is a walking trail which circles the lake along the edge, and people are walking past the few fishermen standing near a couple of popular spots beside the spillway of the earthen dam. A few ducks swim contentedly in the middle of the lake. All is peaceful.

But it was not always so. The rhythms of nature in this part of the world are in sync with Easter:

The sky becomes black in the west as a storm approaches, until the blackness obscures the setting sun and quiet stillness warns of the coming storm;

The disciples gathered with Jesus in an upper room which grew quiet with each word Jesus spoke. Quiet in confusion. Quiet and still from the feeling of impending darkness which his words seemed to bear.

As the storm clouds grow closer, a colder wind quickens the pace of those people out in the open. They look at the sky apprehensively, and move purposefully towards shelter away from the storm, pleading with the clouds to turn away their fury.

Jesus sends Judas, and calls his three most intimate disciples to follow him to a garden. His pace quickens. He looks into the darkness apprehensively and moves purposefully towards the shelter of his Father, pleading for the wrath to be turned away.

The first large drops of rain begin to fall…

The first large drops of blood begin to fall…

A rumble of thunder is heard, and the wind begins to moan fervently…

Jesus rouses the disciples from sleep to the sound of rushing feet, a tense question, a calm answer, and a kiss…

Suddenly, a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder…

Suddenly, a flash of a sword and a piercing scream…

The wind increases in velosity, scattering leaves and anything not anchored…

The soldiers seize Jesus, scattering the disciples, leaving them without anchor…

The hail begins…

The beating begins…

The hail lightens and then stops and its replaced by torrential rain, stronger winds, and a clap of thunder…

The beating slows and then stops and is replaced by torrential words, bellicose accusations, and a clap of judgement…

The wind stops, everything is eerily still…

A rooster crows, and Jesus looks, and everything is eerily still…

A sound grows…

A realization grows…

Wind with the sound of a freight train…

Remorse with the weight of a freight train…

The wind explodes with violence, scourging the innocence beneath with a twisting fury leaving  jagged gashes in the earth…

The whip explodes with violence, scourging the Innocent beneath with a twisted fury leaving  jagged gashes in the flesh…

A  tree is lifted and dragged in fits and starts by a gust of wind until it is  dropped, only to be picked up again by a fresh gust and left on top of a hill…

A tree is lifted and dragged in fits and starts by a disfigured man until it is dropped, only to be picked up again by a different man who is forced to take it to the top of a hill…

Nails scream through the air and are driven into wood…

Nails scream through flesh and are driven into wood…

The action is over… the night is dark and still ominous… it’s now a waiting game for the storm to pass…

The action is over… the day is dark and still ominous… it’s now a waiting game for the man to pass…

Finally… it is finished… the storm is over, but the night is still dark and feels even darker from the apprehension of what destruction the morning will reveal…

Finally… “It is finished”… the storm is over, but the day is still dark and feels even darker from the apprehension of what destruction the future will reveal…

And then…

The sky begins to lighten…

The stone begins to move…

The long night is conquered by the rising of the sun…

The long death is conquered by the rising of the Son…

We walk out into the morning air and breathe deeply the smell of life. We see the beauty, inspite of the night’s violence. But we also see beauty IN the night’s violence. The sun is risen and all the earth responds with color and song. Life looks upward in expectancy for the life-giving rays of the resurrected Son.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;

sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Sing to the Lord, bless his name;

tell of his salvation from day to day.

Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvelous works among all the peoples.

For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!”

Psalm 96: 1-4

He is risen!

He is risen, indeed!

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