Welcome to Holy Week, which begins tomorrow with Palm Sunday. We hear the story of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. He enters the city to shouts of "Hosanna" as he rides humbly on a borrowed donkey. It is a parade of sorts, probably a little noticed procession in the midst of all the people streaming to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. We take our part with the hopeful Jesus supporters who waved branches from nearby trees, hence the palm branches we hold and wave on Sunday. Those who knew Jesus, those who had hopes that he would save them from the Roman imperial system, waved palms and shouted encouragement and praise as they laid their cloaks in the road; a gesture signifying a royal procession. Jesus surely knew that he was headed for a different kingship than those who waved their palm branches and called him King. Our liturgy on Palm Sunday acknowledges both the celebration and hopes of the palm wavers, and the Passion story of Jesus' Crucifixion....the events of the week show the reversal of human expectations with God's saving actions.
The invitation in Holy Week is to slow down and walk the story in almost real time. While painful, sad, and troubling, the discipline of Holy Week creates in us the ability to receive Easter Joy in a profound way. Life and death, humanity and Divinity are on display in ways we are not usually offered, so I invite you to consider joining in a Holy walk in Holy Week. We have services each evening at 7 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; then at 7 am and noon on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil at 7 pm on Holy Saturday.
Each day offers an experience; a way of receiving the story of Salvation with your senses. Holy Week invites us to slow down, to hear and feel the story, experiencing the events WITH Jesus; with our knowledge, like his, of what comes next. Saying goodbye to his friends, teaching them how to love and how to remember him; learning who would betray him to the Roman authorities, who would be too afraid to claim friendship with him once he was marked for death; watching his mother see him captured and condemned; sitting at the foot of the Cross; feeling the emptiness and despair once he is dead and laid in the tomb. Our liturgies this week honor the pain of this journey.
If you haven't traditionally engaged in Holy Week, perhaps choose one day to start this year, as every day may be too much. But try something new, and I promise your Easter will be more joyful, deeper, for having been willing to engage a Holy walk in Holy Week.
Holy Week Liturgies 2022:
Palm Sunday begins our walk. We celebrate and sing as Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, and then we hear the Passion story.
The Women of the Passion service on Tuesday is a "midrash" --an interpretative, imaginative suggestion of what some of the women who knew Jesus might have experienced around his death.
The Tenebrae service on Wednesday connects Hebrew Scripture and Psalms of Lament in a stark and moving service where Light goes out of the world and then returns.
On Maundy Thursday we hear Jesus' words of farewell and love as he eats with his friends, washes their feet, tells them (and us) to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of him.
On Good Friday we participate in the story of betrayal, condemnation and crucifixion as we join with those who were caught up in the mob who cried "crucify him." We witness Jesus' death on a cross, and leave in silence as he dies.
On Holy Saturday we do not gather, but spend the daylight hours in prayer and contemplation, knowing the tomb has been sealed.
Saturday night we gather for the Easter Vigil, and we light a "New Fire" to kindle the new Paschal Candle. This symbolizes the Light coming back into the world. The Vigil recounts the story of Salvation in Scripture beginning with the Creation story in Genesis. Midway through the service, Easter is proclaimed and we shout "Alleluia" as we proclaim that Christ is Risen! The Vigil is the first service of Easter.
On Easter Sunday morning we will repeat those Alleluias as we celebrate Easter joy in the morning at both 8 am and 10 am.
Christopher and I and all the staff invite you to join us for the Holy Week walk. It is always better when we are together, in person and through our livestream access. May God bless you and keep you, encouraging your faith in this season of redemption and hope; life overcoming death. Thanks be to
God who saves us!