Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I am a storydweller. I like to inhabit stories. A crucial aspect of the art of the story is that it takes place over time. There are a sequence of events which follow one after the other. The order of events is not necessarily chronological. The order of events is story-logical. If you mess up the order of events, you mess up the story.

When it comes to the gospel narrative the church has come up with one, very powerful, way of telling the story using our calendar. We have liturgical seasons which follow the order of the story events. If we skip a season or do them out of order it destroys the story. Since most people don't come for worship on days like Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday they are getting botched versions of the story. They skip straight from Palm Sunday to Easter. Or maybe from Christmas to Easter. This doesn't just diminish the days they missed, this completely undermines Easter.

As such I sympathize with the movement to turn Palm Sunday into "Passion Sunday" in many churches. I don't like it. It is truncating the story in a different way, less damaging, but still inelegant. But if only a few people come on Good Friday then only a few people are getting the full impact of Easter Sunday, so "Passion Sunday" makes sense.

Ultimately, though, I think it is a shame not to really milk this season for its spiritual liquor. It takes having a parade on Palm Sunday, prayers all week, a communal meal on Thursday, and mourning all day Friday and Saturday, for Easter to really come alive. Only once you've lived in a world where God is Dead, can you truly hear the good news that he is risen. It's a story. It can't be glimpsed from a distance. It is meant to be dwelled in.

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