Holy Week. For many of us who are “liturgical” Christians, i.e. those believers who gather based upon a traditional platform of calendared and ordered pattern of worship, Holy Week is the peak of the summit. Our deep powder stash, our secret fly fishing hole, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the World Series, the World Cup, the Wimbleton Cup, the Masters of devotion. The drama of salvation for all humankind, and for each of us, rehearsed and relived and revivified in just seven consequential days.
Each year I challenge our church family to make Holy Week both our highest priority and most sacred obligation. Each year I challenge you to join us for the entire week’s journey. Holy Week for me is itself a season of celebration, as the Collect or Prayer for Palm Sunday states, as we are invited to “enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts whereby you have given us life and immortality.” From Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday, presaging the Easter cycle of worship beginning with the Great Vigil of Easter on the evening before Easter Day, Holy Week is an explosion of dramatic worship. We follow Jesus so closely and so intimately as He lives the final few days of His earthly life, chooses to spend his final night hosting his closest friends and students at supper, only to watch them scatter as he is betrayed by one of them to the Jewish and Roman authorities. He is reviewed or adjudicated at night by hastily arranged authorities eager to rid themselves of any potential social disruption of the political and theological powder keg which is early 1st century Jerusalem. He is tortured, humiliated beyond reason and very publicly executed. His mangled body is placed into a nearby tomb so everyone can eat the Passover meal or hunker into terrified hiding. We are done. Or so we think.
Yes, that is our great story, the unfolding of God’s plan throughout the ages as Jesus empties Himself to take a servant’s form for a servant’s death. Easter provides the end of our story, but no good story is best enjoyed by skipping to the end! As I asked before COVOD-19 struck, so I ask now: What is your Holy Week plan? How will we mark this extraordinary seven days to apprentice so intimately with our Lord that we stand by Him and with Him as He gives us that life and that salvation? We will be working hard to provide the best experience of Holy Week worship possible given our circumstances, and sadly that means remotely this Holy Week now, but still….what is your plan? Now is the time to get ready, to research a bit, to study up a bit, to get the house all ready for Holy Week and Easter. “Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again!” And all that begins soon!
- Palm Sunday is April 5th, Good Friday April 10th, Great Vigil April 11th evening, Easter Day April 12th this year. Could you begin to gather items to decorate the house as we walk together through these days? Palms for Palm Sunday or some greenery easy and close? Purple candle for the week? A more stark prayer corner for the week? A nail and rose for Good Friday as we do?
- Could you plan your Holy Week observance even as we are socially distanced and remote? Fasting on Good Friday? Reading one of the gospels throughout that week, or even the “Passion Gospels” (meaning the ending section of any of the four gospels) throughout the week to end on Good Friday? Watching one of the ubiquitous video offerings re-casting these events?
- We are working to re-vision Holy Week while staying faithful to our normative schedule within reason. Will you make space to join us remotely as often as possible?