And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twistingsome thorns into a crown, they put it on him.Mark 15:17 (NRSV)
It is just a few metal rods … an unadorned base … and what looks to me like a piston ring housing for a small motor, that has been cut into pieces. Such ordinary and unexceptional scraps of metal. But when arranged into a pattern by a man with vision, they become an iconic symbol of the week into which we have taken a few cautious steps. That artist’s name is Dean Lemon. He was a shop teacher for decades here in the Manheim Township school system. He is also a member of St. Peter’s. And a number of years ago he donated this work of art to the church. Dean would not consider himself an artist. But through his creation, he has transported us into the final week of Jesus’ life, and the iconic events that lead up to the crucifixion. Achieved with just a few scraps of metal.
It may be a bit melodramatic to suggest this, but isn’t that exactly what God does with you and me … take some ordinary elements like oxygen, carbon and hydrogen which make up more than 90% of the human body, along with another seventeen elements that make up the rest … and craft a work of art … the human body, animated by the human soul. We are crafted from nothing special or unique. But along with this collection of elements … when God’s creative spirit is breathed into them … comes a work of art we call simply … life.
Holy Week is about life. We mistake it as a week that focuses on Jesus’ death … and that is an understandable mistake. But the presence and reality of death which draws us to the cross of Good Friday, is but a counterpoint to the life which awaits us at the entrance to the empty tomb. It is a significant counterpoint, to be sure. Death is not to be dismissed, casually. We are living in a world we do not recognize, and one in which death hides within a microscopic virus we cannot see with the human eye. It is a powerful little virus. As I type this devotion, the Coronavirus death toll has topped 10,000 lives. But as people of faith, we never allow death to have the final word upon our lives. That courage is not ours by nature … it is gifted to us by our savior … by Jesus … who accepted death on our behalf.
So, embrace the life your Creator has fashioned for you. Be realistic about the threats that confront us in the world … but do not let that realism suggest to you that life is without hope. For the empty tomb reaches forward into our lives today, and reminds us that where God is present, there is always hope. Walk in that hope this week … and every week that follows.