The past few years we have been gaining more and more family members in the “CousinsMadness” bracket challenge. What began with the cousins a number of years ago has caught traction. Now we have spouses, aunts, uncles, and most of the family. This year we added “grandma” who wanted to be part of the excitement. And why wouldn’t she want to be part of it all, it is exciting. Three weeks of game action, ups and downs, joys and disappointments, and healthy competition. At the end of it all the winner gains bragging rights for the year and a trophy to seal their mark in history (Congrats Ed! A new year is upon us!).
It is interesting that March Madness always comes during the time of year that the church celebrates a different reality. Typically, the tournament play falls in the mid to late weeks of the season of Lent, often including Holy Week.
Holy Week, now that was a real week of Madness. “Holy Week,” you know the week that began with a crowd trying to make Jesus king as he rode a donkey into Jerusalem; the week with Jesus turning tables in the temple. The week with religious authorities seeking to kill Jesus saying, “Better for one to die than the whole nation.”
- As the religious authorities allied with the government’s power to keep the status quo
- As the disciples questioned “who was the greatest,” refused to wash each other’s feet, promised allegiance to Jesus while falling asleep, drawing swords, running naked, betraying and denying that they even knew him.
- As the crowds yelled, “crucify him,” choosing a murdering thief over Jesus for free release and Pilate washed his hands of it all.
As exhilarating as March Madness basketball can be with the family, I can’t imagine what emotions would have been flying during that Holy Week so many years ago. That was madness at a whole different level; a madness that still shows its head today with shootings and news stories, governmental corruption and abuse of power, and individuals demanding their own way instead of “not my will but Thine,” as modeled by Jesus in the garden.
A year, two years, ten years from now, no one will think again about who was champion in college basketball in 2018. Two thousand years later, people are still reflecting on the significance of the events remembered in Holy Week. What does it mean for the world that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and raised from the dead? What does it mean for my life? I hope over the next few weeks all of us will take a break from the brackets to consider deeply what Jesus Christ in his passion, death, resurrection and ascension did for us and the whole world.