Before writing further, I want to recognize that I have lots of cultural and personal blind spots. Furthermore, when any person or group decides to celebrate any tradition one way, they will inevitably miss out on the pros of doing it another way. This is just a little Santa Semana ruminating.
Yesterday morning we went to the local Catholic church to watch their Good Friday procession. They left the church with the statue of Jesus carried by four young men and a host of costumed Roman guards. Along the way they stopped for readings about the stations of the cross. A statue of Mary came out of a side street to meet Jesus along the road of the passion. Will and I both commented that it helps you to picture Jesus actually walking along a real street, carrying the cross, even though some of the other elements were distracting. Thursday and Friday are national holidays and the real focus is the crucifixion of Jesus. Today, everything is open again and I have heard that very little is said about Easter Sunday.— there is no resurrection procession. One friend told us tonight that if you attend the Saturday mass, you don’t have to go on Sunday.
On the other hand, evangelical churches don’t celebrate Lent or Easter here. In trying to set themselves apart from the Catholic church, they declare that they celebrate Jesus’ resurrection all year long and that they don’t follow the liturgical calendar. Our church is not even meeting this Sunday because the buses are running sporadically and many people have gone out to the beach or to visit family on the long weekend.
Hey, everyone! Jesus was raised from the dead! He conquered sin and death! We can celebrate and remember His victory! Peter wants to have a “He took away our sins” party. Amen, Peter. Yes, He suffered and was humiliated and crushed for my sins. Yes, I want to remember His death and resurrection every day. Yes, crazy Americans talk about a rabbit and dye eggs and buy clothes and lose the real meaning.
But, there is value in having a special weekend to remember the punishment He paid and the reward He received. There is beauty in having Easter now, with the rebirth of spring, the continuity with the Jewish calendar, with remembering that it is a historical event that took place on a real, 24 hour day. There is a sorrow in thinking of the hours when Jesus’ followers did not know what had hit them, what they would do without the Master. There is inspiration in the dedicated women going to the tomb to love Him as they still could, breathless joy in the absolute surprise of finding the tomb empty, of running to tell the disciples. The contemplation of Easter weekend, in all of its grit and glory, has blessed followers of Jesus for over two thousand years. I hate to see our Tico friends miss that blessing. I pray that you will receive it.