Man, I love Holy Week. I don’t mean to sound cheesy but, as someone who did not have a liturgical church upbringing, I find the traditions of this week fascinating to learn about as an adult. As an example, my husband was raised in a Lutheran Church and speaks with warm affection about the tradition and intentionality around the days of this week. Palm Sunday. Maundy Thursday. Good Friday. Holy Saturday and of course, Easter Sunday. In the midst of all these celebrations, the one he finds particularly meaningful is the Good Friday service.
Apparently, in this tradition and many others, the service ends with a “strepitus.” Certainly a new word to my vocabulary, strepitus is Latin for “great noise.” At the end of the service, the lights dim, and someone will slam a book, create “thunder” via a sheet of metal, scrape a bench across the floor, or use some other means to create a racket. The specific reference for the noise seems to vary, with some using it as a representation of the earthquake that took place after Christ’s death and others as a way to mimic the closing of the tomb. Regardless, the strepitus is used to symbolize the finality of His death and the work He did on the cross.
That noise is a fitting and thunderous echo of the power of His final words, “It is finished.”
As I have considered how to prepare for Easter this year, it was actually the thought of that noise that brought a new image to my mind. Darn if God didn’t shut that tomb tight…and yet we can’t seem to resist knocking on it.
Please forgive the potential irreverence, but with the urgency of a child standing outside the bathroom door, sometimes we can’t seem to leave Jesus alone. We find ourselves panicked and worried that He has something we need in there while He is just telling us to leave Him alone and let Him do His business.
Us: Hey! Hey Jesus! Hey! I need something in there!
J: No, you don’t. I’ve given you everything you need and I know what I am doing in here.
Us: But Jesus I NEEEEED something in there.
J: Hey, would you trust me? Anything I brought in here with me you do not need.
Us: But, but, but Jesus, please?! Could you please open up the door and get me…
The shame I think I’m supposed to keep carrying?
The mistake I made all those years ago?
The insecurity you freed me from?
That thing you told me “no” about?
The opportunity I want but you protected me from?
That habit that gives me comfort but takes me further from You?
The old opinion I used to have of myself?
The mistaken opinions others have of me?
The works that I think make me worthy of Your love?
The pride I have in my own abilities?
J: No my child. You are not supposed to take any of that stuff back. Those things are why I am in here. Please leave it here with Me.
For all that is Holy (literally), we have to quit banging on that tomb and trying to drag stuff back out. The ONLY thing that was ever supposed to come back out of that dark space was Him. We have to stop trying to resurrect all that other stuff He took in there to die. He took it because He loves us. He took it because He wanted to carry it for us. He took it and He took it for keeps.
I pray that each of you experiences a sweeter and deeper Easter than any you have known before. And no matter where you are or how you celebrate on Good Friday I hope you will take a moment, hand Him your stuff, and let Him shut the door.
It. Is. Finished.