Holy Week, which begins Sunday and unfolds toward Easter, requires a choice on the rugged road that passes by the cross, the universal symbol of Christian faith and experience.
After the scriptural narrative describes the welcoming crowds on what history has named Palm Sunday, the situation turns uglier and darker for those who believe that in Jesus of Nazareth they see the promised messiah, and for Jesus, the light at the end of the tunnel has disappeared.
The Christian writer Frederick Buechner, in a career and calling spanning more than six decades, offers a stark and plainly worded explanation of what Jesus did and requires.
“Jesus Is Crazy as a Coot” is from “Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations,” among Buechner’s most popular books:
“If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party. The world says, Mind your own business, and Jesus says, There is no such thing as your own business. The world says, Follow the wisest course and be a success, and Jesus says, Follow me and be crucified. The world says, Drive carefully – the life you save may be your own – and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. The world says, Law and order, and Jesus says, Love. The world says, Get and Jesus says, Give. In terms of the world’s sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion.”
Coming to grips with the realities in Holy Week and afterward places people in a powerful way in the kingdom of God that Jesus says is “among us” (some translate it as “within you”).
Most of all, as Buechner wrote in “The Clown in the Belfry,” is the “power which is in Jesus, and before which all other powers on earth and in heaven give way, the power that holds all things in existence from the sparrow’s eye to the farthest star, is above all else a loving power. That means we are precious, every one of us ….”
That kingdom with which all must come to terms, “reaches out to our precious hands while there’s still time.”
It is, Buechner writes, “the gladdest thing of all.”