We lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for four years when I was growing up. Every September the city celebrates Fiesta, commemorating the “peaceful” reconquest of the area by the Spanish. The festivities are kicked off each year by the burning of Zozobra, a 50 foot tall marionette. The idea is to give all of your troubles and woes to Zozobra and then they are burned up and you can celebrate worry free for the weekend.
Early in the evening groups and families spread out blankets in the park where Zozobra is set up and eat dinner and enjoy the evening and the mariachi music. As it gets later and darker the crowd gets bigger. Blankets get picked up because there isn’t much room left for them. The crowd gets drunker/higher. People press closer together. Zozobra gets more animated, starts waving his arms around, his head moves back and forth, his eyes move, he groans. The crowd is a mass of humanity. Someone starts up the chant, “Burn him. Burn him.” The crowd picks it up. Zozobra groans louder and waves his arms even more. The fire dancer comes out. The crowd is even louder now as they chant “Burn him. Burn him.” The fire dancer lights Zozobra on fire who groans and waves his arms to the very end. The extremely drunk/high crowd disperses, satisfied with the night’s destructive entertainment.
We only went twice. We watched it on TV after that. However being in that crowd has stuck with me.
Two thousand years ago Christ knelt quietly in a garden and willingly took my troubles and woes, my worries and pains, upon him. He stood silently in front of a crowd. Someone started up the chant, “Crucify him. Crucify him.” The crowd picked it up. Without complaint he suffered, bled, and died. And the people dispersed, most not realizing what they had witnessed.
But it is not because he died that my troubles and woes can become peace and hope, that my worries and pains can become joy.
It is because He lives.