“Passion” is a big buzzword now, especially on the internet and in marketing. I don’t know if most people are prepared to be passionate in our culture today. I know it seems I am conflating the meaning of Christ’s Passion, but let’s look at these things for a little while.
If the word passion connotes anything in the English language it is certainly intensity. Intensity in focus and in emotion, and that relates to all uses of our concept of passion. In the sense of Easter week it follows the height of Palm Sunday’s celebration of Christ on Earth through the sorrowful depths of the Crucifixion to the triumph of the Resurrection. That probably plays on every emotion a person might have, in some way, Joy and Jealousy, Love and Betrayal, Injustice and Fear, Relief and Sorrow… to just name the most obvious.
I’m not sure our emotionally medicated, mind distracting, self-absorbed society is ready for such passion. We love the idea of being sold-out for causes, wholeheartedly given to lifestyles, immersed in our job or interest, and so we talk about passion, but rarely live it. And those who do give themselves in such a way are “too much”, too restrictive, and too narrow for those who simply love the lip service of living a passionate life.
The old idea of “the Passion”, the one kept alive in churches with traditional rituals that center on such things, is from the Latin term for “suffering”. When you are passionate about art or gardening, or music, the idea of suffering for it is divorced from the contemporary viewpoint. We want our passions pain-free. We want our religion pain-free, or at least contained in its symbolic church boxes. But the kind of love that God showed the world was one of such intense suffering for it that whether in sight of it or removed by unbelief and centuries… we turn our faces from it. It is too painful to even glimpse for more than a second’s flash of revelation.
And yet that is what Easter week calls to us, the would-be disciples of Christ, those desiring to be loved and cared for by the Great Shepherd, those who want justice in the world, and healing for their wounds. “Look at the cross”. Any of all the possible sufferings that mankind is subject to cries out for a release. And in return, Easter calls us to view the incredible cost of suffering that lifting such a weight demanded. The release is there, and cost a terrible, terrible price. We are struck at the enormity and how impossible a debt we had incurred. We have to face the pain that we inflicted.
Our love of passion evaporates when its true visage is revealed.
Earlier in the week I was reading a little more in the book “Crazy Love” by Frances Chan. At some point my mind went off course from the pages and I began thinking about the betrayals and disappointments in my relationships. It seemed that they were appearing alongside the greatness of the salvation and promises that the Savior suffered for during this passion week. I wanted to hold onto the realization that my sufferings… all of them, lumped together and compounded… were nothing compared to the vast asset of that salvation. I not only knew it, but felt it in conviction. I also knew how quickly such revelation can slip from me, as I – something like Peter on the water, look at the circumstance and emotion of that around me, and sink.
Today, on Good Friday, I look to and call for help from the one who called me to this Faith in the beginning. I’m sinking, but His hand grasps mine. Easter is ahead. Easter Sunrise, and all it means.