This is my favorite week of the year. For a very long time Easter has been my favorite holiday. It began as simply loving Easter Sunday and has extended into the whole of Holy Week.
Why? I think part of it is the tradition. Easter Sunday when we gather and I hear all the “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” greetings fills my heart with a sense of joy and wonder. When we sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today and the other Easter hymns I feel like I am in touch with the global Church.
I love the rhythm of the week. The depths of despair that come from Maundy Thursday where we remember the arrest of Jesus and Good Friday when we recall his crucifixion. There is this almost oppressive silence on Saturday as we hopefully wait for Easter Sunday. Then the explosion of joy on Easter! Oh the joy! The songs beat in your chest and everyone is smiling at the realization that the Christ is risen!
There’s also the family traditions that we celebrate. In our family we make “Resurrection Buns” with our kids. You take biscuit dough and flatten a biscuit out. You put a marshmallow (Jesus) in the middle and pinch it all up. Then roll the “tomb” in butter and cinnamon. You bake it and when you take them out of the oven, the “tombs” are empty. It’s a fun tradition and it makes us smile.
Holy Week is simply the best.
Yet, how do we practice it in the midst of the stay at home orders and the inability to gather for worship? There will be no Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter worship services in the usual way. For someone like me, this feels like a tremendous loss. I am grieved that we don’t get to meet as the followers of Christ for these important moments in our communities.
So we grieve. We acknowledge the grief. When we embrace the grief of the moment we can fully enter into it. Grief is not something that we get over or get past. It’s something we grow around and it becomes part of us and eventually makes us stronger.
As we grieve the loss of the moment we get creative. We figure out new ways and rhythms to live. As I think about this Holy Week, I am realizing that it affords me the opportunity to simply reflect and enter into the story of the passion. There are no trappings of the pageantry and the gatherings. This week, we will simply be able to enter into these moments of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We will do so in our homes with our families. This week, we will be forced to quiet ourselves even more. We will need to listen even more intently to the still quiet voice of the God whom we follow. Instead of the running from one event to the next we can gaze into the face of the Christ, the one who defeated death and brings life.
During Holy Week I’d encourage you to read through the story of his final week in the gospels the readings all begin on Palm Sunday:
As you read through them reflect on the story. Notice the similarities and differences in the telling of the story from the different perspectives. Allow the story to impact the way you look at this week and even the world.