As we wait … this Holy Saturday, I pause. In the silence of the quietest of all days, the “day of the entombed Christ,” I try to take in all that “has just happened” in the passing of Jesus. Not just the events of Good Friday, but all that led up to it. He walked among us, was present to all humanity, and then took on all sin and violence of the world in humility and servanthood. And then, as the creed says, “He descended unto the dead.” And now as we hang between two worlds on this most Holy Saturday awaiting the “vigil,” I see not only what He did but also how did it – bringing an end to the one world of darkness, sin and death, and leading us to the new era of His salvation. The magnitude of God’s great work in His death and resurrection is over-whelming truly. And yet how he entered it and led this great victory is equally impacting. For me this morning, a pastor having to lead amidst the minefields of American churchness, it is the way Christ led that is especially impacting me this morning. For let us see Jesus Christ, Son of God, truly God truly human, coming and spending countless hours of sitting and being “among” us. And then let us see Him taking on all our grief, violence, sin, and inadequacies so that in God’s mighty power He, Christ the Son, could lead all us lost souls of this world to the reality of restored creation in Him. He leads regular men and women from death to life through humility, love and submission to taking on the sin of the world, believing God would bring Glory out of it all.
His “leadership style” (forgive me for using that term) is exemplified once and for all at the Lord’s Supper, the week of His passion where He washes the feet of his disciples. And then, on that same occasion, He says to his disciples, the future “leaders” of the church, “the kings and the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called Benefactors, But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as a servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the Table or the one who serves? … But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-27 NASV)
Can I be this kind of leader? Can I be quiet and sit and be among people, suffer the inevitable insults, pains and violence that all us ministers get regularly tossed at us by lost people, or people on their way to sanctification. Can I offer love and truth and direction to someone in the midst of the growth adjustments? On this most Holiest of Saturdays, Jesus calls me back to be this kind of leader with regular submission to Christ in prayer.
These words by Henri Nouwen are mind blowing to me (I don’t know where he wrote them – sorry)
“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets.
It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”
This is why it’s important for pastors to participate in Lent, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. This is “leadership formation.”
Blessings … as we wait …