The drama begins this Sunday in the most liturgically intense period of our year, Holy Week.
One of the difficult themes of Palm Sunday and throughout this week is of Jesus’ suffering. I wonder how you preach about this? On one hand the epistles, like this Sunday’s from Philippians, glorify Jesus’ suffering and death as necessary for salvation and as something to be imitated. Our reading from Isaiah goes further, where we can’t help but imagine Jesus turning the cheek and accepting the violence being thrown at him.
The myth of redemptive violence is helpful on a global level. First articulated by Rene Girard, the myth of redemptive violence says the only way to conquer chaos is to escalate violence until someone dies. This person is merely a scapegoat for all the violence and chaos in society. The chaos is stemmed, for a time, until something else happens to escalate the chaos again. Jesus broke the myth of redemptive violence when, instead of death and violence, God chose resurrection and creation.
But is that helpful to those who are sitting in our pews this Sunday, suffering, hearing Christ’s suffering being glorified? How do deal with the theme of suffering through this week? What other themes are you focussing on this Sunday?