Blessed (almost) Holy Week, everyone!
While Christmas will always be my favorite holiday, Holy Week is my favorite part of the Church calendar. There is so much that actually happened during Jesus’s final week in his earthly life, culminating in two of the most beautiful and heart-rending days full of events that quite literally changed the world.
Growing up, I only ever remember Easter celebrations. And boy could my family throw a party! It was a welcome table where our family and friends gathered to enjoy all the traditional dishes (cough, from the ‘70s) and fellowship that bonded so many of us together through the years. I remember egg hunts and baskets. I remember the Bunny. All amazing and wonderful things.
However, it was not until I was a teenager that I learned about Holy Week. And I was all in from the get-go.
Our culture, as a general rule, prefers not to focus much on death. Nor to talk much about difficult or troubling things. Let alone messy or complex ones.
The great irony is that is what life literally is. Maybe not constant death for most of us. But there is far more of the troublesome, the chaotic and the complicated in this world and our lives than many of us would like to admit.
In his final days, Jesus enters his beloved Jerusalem triumphantly, then turns around and clears the temple with whip in hand. He teaches extensively, in the gospel we are studying this year, about what the Kingdom of Heaven is meant to be like – this included both the Greatest Commandment and the parable of the Sheep and Goats in these final days. If you’re not sure which parable that is, it’s the one where he gives us the go-to list of how we are supposed to continue following him: by physically caring for the least of these that are God’s children. He upsets a whole lot of people, many of whom are plotting to kill him, when he lets a woman wash his feet with her unbound hair (and they aren’t even married), telling us she is preparing him for his burial. All the while, his disciples won’t even let themselves believe Friday is coming. And that’s just the first four days.
Holy Week is messy and complicated. It is filled with contradictions and miracles. When we give ourselves space to truly enter into it, we will find that there is no way to leave unchanged.
One final thought: in his final sermon in John, Jesus tells his disciples that there is only one way the world will know we are Christ’s disciples. Given all that we are experiencing in our midst as we head into this coming week, there is no better fast or greater practice than to love with everything you’ve got. Radically. Recklessly. Standing with the tormented and comforting the hurting.
Imitate our Crucified God.
And remember to lift up your eyes, because we already know where our help is coming from.
Blessings, Pastor Janie