March Madness

How about Florida Gulf Coast?  Or think about Harvard beating New Mexico.  With many of you I’ve been following the NCAA “March Madness” playoffs.  I confess that I don’t really have a dog in this hunt.  There is no team that is a favorite for me.  I just enjoy a good game.  Saturday while during some household chores, I was able to watch Indiana University (one of the favorites) barely survive an upset at the hands of a tough Temple team.  It is fun and wacky; it is “March madness” as the television advertisers like to say. And yet, the real “March Madness” has nothing to do with basketball.  It has to do with the events of this week we call Holy.  Furthermore, instead of not having a dog in hunt, I and every human being who has ever or will ever live has eternity hanging in the balance.  The entrance to Jerusalem by a King on a donkey is true, holy “March madness.” Consider the week begins in a triumphant entry that is strangely contrasted with the entries of other rules.  The pomp and circumstance of Roman might and power is contrasted with the home-grown parade of branches and cloaks.  Yet 2000 years later, it is that home-grown parade we remember not the clanking pageantry of Roman muscle. Or take some of the other events of this week.  The cleansing of the temple is the stuff of craziness.  It is designed to bring the wrath of religious power down upon the perpetrator’s head – that is, the head of Jesus of Nazareth.  Yet the “March Madness” of the Savior teach us something of God’s love for those who have not, for those outside of the religious mainstream. Take the Thursday meal in a borrowed upper room with a traitor and denier sitting at the table.  You would think that the Savior of the world would do a better job of picking those to eat with him at his last supper.  Yet…when I pause to reflect I cannot help but discover that he has me also to sit at table with him.  The choices of this Jesus, this Lord and Savior, are strange indeed by the world’s standards. Or embrace Friday.  Why call this day good? It is a day in which the greatest man who ever lived suffered a cruel and rampantly unjust execution.  Yet in the madness of March it is the day of salvation. And look where the “March Madness” ends. The championship is not in an arena but at a graveyard.  May this Easter find you there … in celebration!