By Steven Norris

     Sunday begins Holy Week — the most sacred week of the year for Christians. This week marks the final week in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, from his entrance into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey through the events of his death and resurrection. It is a familiar story that Christians have heard time and time again.

     This past Sunday, I shared with our congregation a poem from Billy Collins, US Poet Laureate from 2001-2003. The poem is entitled, “Introduction to Poetry,” and contains suggestions for how one might encounter one of Collins’ poems.

     Collins invites readers to “drop a mouse into a poem / and watch him probe his way out, / or walk inside the poems room / and feel the walls for a light switch.” He contrasts this kind of curious exploration with the typical and pedantic insistence on “what the poem really means.” Could such an approach invite us to enter into the familiar stories of Holy Week with a renewed sense of awe and curiosity?

     If you so dare, I encourage you to drop into the 19th chapter of Luke’s Gospel and try to probe your way back out. Feel around the walls for a light switch that may illuminate some dark corner of the story that you have neglected in previous readings. Look at the story through the lens of a minor character that you have rushed by in the past. Question them about their point of view. Ask them about what they saw and heard, what they felt and experienced.

     What about the owners of the colt that the disciples co-opted for Jesus to ride? How did they know what the disciples meant when they said, “The Lord has need of it?” How would I have felt if I had been in the temple on the day that Jesus came in and “cleansed” it of merchants and cheats?

     Who exactly was the widow who Jesus singled out in chapter 21 who “gave out of her poverty,” and what happened to her after that? Jesus said that she “put in all she had to live on.” How did God provide for her and take care of her after such a tremendous offering?

     Who was the man carrying the water jar that led the disciples to the house where they would eat the Passover meal with Jesus? Who exactly was the servant girl who interrogated Peter in the courtyard and prompted his betrayal? What would it have been like to be the Roman soldier tasked with whipping Jesus’ back or nailing his hands and feet to the “old rugged cross?” Who were the criminals crucified on the right and left of Jesus that fateful day?

     So many questions. So many nooks and crannies to explore. This Holy Week, let’s agree to enter the story with a fresh set of eyes and a newfound inquisitiveness for the treasures yet to be uncovered. Let’s set the familiar aside for a moment as we open ourselves to the way the Spirit breathes new life into “the greatest story ever told.”