By John Coggin, Senior Advisor, NC Rural Center
For Christians, this is Holy Week. We started on Palm Sunday, crowds celebrating as Jesus rides triumphantly into Jerusalem. Monday, things turn feisty as Jesus wreaks havoc with the moneychangers in the temple. Thursday, we are huddled in a hidden room, rumors flying that Jesus has been betrayed. Friday plunges us into despair, as the leader thought to be on the cusp of revolution is brutally killed. Sunday, everything changes – again – as the joy of the resurrection unfolds. In one week, we have dashed back and forth between life’s highest and lowest moments.
Sounds like the life of policy advocacy, doesn’t it? As we have seen over the years of trying to close the health insurance coverage gap in North Carolina, one minute we think the finish line is in sight. Then, the next minute, someone changes their mind, deals collapse, and we are back to square one.
Some people thrive on riding these emotional roller coasters. For those of us who would rather spend some time on the merry-go-round, perhaps we can take comfort by looking closer at Holy Week.
Yes, Holy Week is a wild ride. Still, what I find most powerful about the journey is the awareness that through it all, God is with us. Yes, God is there during the exuberant moments as the palm fronds wave and the tomb is found empty. But God is also there as the tables topple, the disciples doubt, and the crowd climbs to Calvary. Throughout Holy Week, God uses every moment – especially the difficult ones – to help people recognize grace, experience love, and play a role in the most momentous week in history.
I wish closing the coverage gap weren’t such a wild ride. But during Holy Week, I hope we can remember that God has been with us this entire time. God has been there as our friends and family are kept from accessing the care they need, as rural health care systems falter and close, and as we endure the frustrations of a seemingly intractable political system. God has also been there as we have built an incredible coalition, made up of people who hail from every county in North Carolina and who cross all sorts of dividing lines of political party, economic sector, and personal background. We are now in the position to be a leader in the South, to show that even in these fractious times, it is possible to come together, across our differences, to do something good for our people. We can be certain that in the coming days, God will be with us still.
The greatest message of Holy Week, though, is not that God is with us at all times. It is that through the resurrected Christ we see that God is a God of new life. In all our moments, of both joy and despair, God is not just “there” but is at work, making all things new. That is why we can shout “Hallelujah!” on Easter morning, knowing that after the roller coaster ride of Holy Week, there is a new dawn of redemption and hope.
For all those ready for the roller coaster ride to be over, let’s try to hang on just a little longer. The Easter promise tells us that at the end of this ride, we might not just have passed a historic public policy that will improve the lives of our people and the strength of our economy. We might also find ourselves renewed in spirit, bound closer to each other and closer to the God who has been close to us this whole time.
John Coggin is a nonprofit consultant and doctoral researcher in the Durham University (UK) Department of Theology and Religion. He previously served as the treasurer of Care4Carolina.