A close friend in North Carolina used to talk about those who were coming to the close of their earthly lives as “circling the drain.” The comment was not meant to be pejorative, demeaning, or dismissive. In fact, I never heard him use the phrase in reference to anyone for whom he didn’t have deep love and respect. It was a phrase that was meant to capture the inevitability of one’s passing while still describing some level of life, passion, and engagement.
At the risk of sounding irreverent, Jesus is “circling the drain.” Events that had been known since the beginning of time would soon be coming to fruition. The end – Christ’s decisive victory over sin and death – will soon be set into motion. Cities will be entered. Final teachings will be given. Betrayal – arrests – brutal beatings – and an even more horrific death are imminent.
The pattern is known and set. Nothing about the story will change. It is not as though suddenly the crowd will choose Jesus instead of Barabbas. I wonder if the story – in all of its familiarity – has lost some of its ability to fill us with awe and wonder? I wonder – since we know that Friday is not the final word – if we will be able to go through the hours of Good Friday with little apprehension, with little dread, with an overly familiar and comfortable awareness of Christ’s time on the Cross? I wonder, if we will wonder at all.
There is an inevitability about circling the drain. But that doesn’t mean – in the midst of that inevitability – that life cannot be filled with wonder, majesty, glory, amazement, horror, and overwhelming thankfulness. How will your Holy Week be different this year? What new services or experiences will you enter into to make Holy Week different and wondrously new?