Our lives are filled with frenetic activity. We race from home to work, to school, to appointments, practices, restaurants, and sporting events. Even the church adds to our calendar, as we shuffle back and forth from group meetings, Sunday School, Bible studies, and mission trips.
But there are a couple of times a year when the body of Christ comes together to sit. To stare. To stop and gaze. Christmas and Easter are those quiet, holy, time-stilling moments of the church.
Have you ever been in a moment where it seemed like time stood still? Maybe it was your wedding day as you made your vows before God and others. Maybe it was a crisis – a car accident that seemed to happen in slow motion. Maybe it was the day your baby was born. Or the day your loved one died. Whatever the event, time stopped. And you sat, stared, and pondered.
Holy Week is a time for stopping. When you read the Gospel of John, you find Jesus talking a lot about “his hour” and the “time that is coming.” John tells us over and over again, “his hour had not yet come.”
But beginning in chapter 12, the narrative slows down and crawls through the next thirty-six hours. Jesus talks to His disciples in the upper room. He comforts them. Challenges them. Provokes them. And then the hours pass by as Jesus goes from the Garden to the palace and then to the hill where His heart will stop beating.
The best way to celebrate this week is to sense the stopping of time, and to remember the moments at the heart of our faith. To simply marvel at the Word of God and what these precious events mean. To listen for the Old Testament echoes, to catch the Old Testament overtones and familiar melodies that resound through the Gospel writers’ symphony of the cross. To look at Jesus – the One crucified in our place, who loved us and died for us.
Behold! That’s an old biblical word that says, “Stop and look.” So take time this week to stop and gaze at the crucified One.