T.S. Eliot wrote a poem called “Journey of the Magi,” in which he describes the call of the Eastern Kings to come to see the baby heralded by a magnificent star. Toward the end of the poem, Eliot says this: “this Birth was/Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.”
While it might seem out of season to call to mind a Christmas poem during Holy Week, Eliot’s words strike a chord even now. Jesus’ death on the cross and his victory over the grave, promise us birth and new life. “See, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). And in the unfolding events of Holy Week, that’s exactly what God does.
Jesus’ walk to Calvary is not one more sad story whispered by a sad world. The cross has meaning, purpose, drive. By it, God’s ways—birth and life—prevail. Resurrection comes in the middle of the absence of hope. Easter light comes only after its absence at noon the Friday before.
This message is an excerpt from “Forgive and Release” by Karen Bates-Olson, in the April 2014 issue of Gather magazine. Today is Monday in Holy Week. We remember Albrecht Durer, who died in 1528; Matthias Grunewald, who died in 1529; and Lucas Cranach, who died 1553; artists.