Remembering all the events that seem crammed and overflowing into that last week in Jesus’ life. Pondering the words he spoke, the conversations he had, his teaching in those last few days. Thinking about the conflicting emotions–anxiety mixed with confidence, fear mixed with courage, certainty mixed with doubt. Walking with him into familiar places and new situations. And then that slow journey to the cross. The slow journey to death.
I never want to rush past this week straight to Easter morning. Yet this morning as I was pondering the lessons I am learning during this Holy Week, I remembered my favorite Easter carol. We don’t talk much about Easter carols, but there is one I love, written by Phillips Brooks.
Brooks is best known for composing the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” He is also known to have been a caring mentor, a faithful rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia and then Trinity Church in Boston, an extraordinarily gifted preacher, and a professor of ethics at Harvard. Perhaps his least known claim to fame is that he resides on a distant branch of my family tree. We both descend from the Phillips family, who sailed to Massachusetts Bay in 1630 aboard the Arbella.
Of all these accomplishments (not being my relative but the others), what I wish Brooks were known for is his Easter carol. The first verse is the best:
Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;
Death is strong, but Life is stronger;
Stronger than the dark, the light;
Stronger than the wrong, the right.
Faith and Hope triumphant say,
Christ will rise on Easter Day.
These words have always spoken to me, but this year, even more so. Life is strong. Stronger than dark. Stronger than wrong. For indeed, Christ will rise!
Pam Durso is executive director, Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.