I tinkle a little on the piano and love attending concerts and musical performances. I am often reminded, as I get lost in the music, just how important the refrain is, particularly when there is great musical variation and improvisation.
The refrain is just a repeated line or musical phrase that ties the whole song or symphony together. It jolts you back to the main theme. The melody can soar in diverse directions and transport you to sublime heights, but there is always an echo of its desired end which reemerges in the refrain and grounds you.
Holy Week, for me, is that refrain in my faith. It ties the whole narrative together. With sixty-six books in the Bible – including poetry, history, law, biography, instruction, and prophecy – it’s easy to get confused and even disoriented about the main message.
Holy Week begins with Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey to cheers of the crowds that their Messiah, their King, has returned and has entered the Temple. The Temple is the place where God dwells and where heaven and earth meet, but God has been missing. In Jesus, God comes to dwell with us. At the end of the biblical narrative, God fully dwells with humans. That is the endgame.
But this requires defeating the powers that block this reality. On the cross, Jesus draws into himself in one time and in one place all the powers of sin and violence and defeats them. They are defanged by suffering love and the power of powerlessness.
In the resurrection he shows the last power, namely death, is defeated and the new creation has begun. We use terms like salvation, reconciliation, redemption to describe the refrain that peaks in Holy Week. The refrain returns: God is setting the world right.