Believe it or not, ministers have pet peeves. Not that I would ever do this (tongue firmly in cheek) – but some ministers lament the fact that many people want to move directly from Palm Sunday to Easter, ignoring all the events that happened in between.
Okay, okay - in the spirit of transparency I confess, I have been in the ranks of those ministers some years, wanting people to understand the pain and grief associated with Jesus’ terrible death so that their experience of the resurrection would be that much greater.
Looking back, I can see how ridiculous my thinking was. More than anything I want people to understand the deep love, compassion, and grace that God offers, and to recognize that having all that goodness in your life is nothing short of transformational. So this year I’m in a different place. During our Good Enough Teaching Series, as we’ve focused on tending the things that make our lives not perfect, but good enough (translate pretty darn wonderful) - I’ve recognized that many people are already living with pain and grief. For those folks, burdened with caregiving, struggling to make ends meet, trying to mend a broken relationship, attempting to rest and become stronger, or any number of other challenges – life is already hard.
Then why is Holy Week important? It gives us intense time with Jesus – time to recognize that he lived through some horribly intense times and that God was with him the whole time (even when it didn’t look like it).
By this time in my ministry I’ve been present with many people who were dying, and in most cases in some way God offers a respite to those who are dying and their loved ones. This respite might come in the form of family gathered to sing or remember and laugh together. Perhaps it is a good day, or a half day or even an hour when the one who is transitioning from this life is free from pain and able to coherently visit with those they treasure. And there are other ways that comfort is offered – sometimes after death – through a dream or a bird or a flower or something else that sparks memories and triggers the deep love we will always carry in our hearts for those we lose.
So this Holy Week, I encourage you to immerse yourself, not because you have to, or because you need to experience the pain, but because time spent in worship and prayer reminds us that God understands human pain and suffering. Think of this week as a special respite spent with Jesus before he goes to the cross. Any time spent with the One who embodies compassion and wisdom and love is time well spent in nurturing our lives and our faith.
There are lots of options to choose from this week as you journey toward Easter Sunday and resurrection. Choose what will nourish your soul and participate in those activities. (Note some of the activities below are sponsored by our ecumenical partner, West Side Baptist Church. You’re invited and welcome to attend any of those activities that interest you.) Here is a schedule for Holy Week 2022:
Monday, 6:00 p.m. Good Enough Book Study 6 p.m. Contact the church for zoom link.
Thursday, 6:30 p.m.: Maundy Thursday worship with communion at West Side Christian
Thursday, 7:00 p.m.: Seder Meal, West Side Baptist Church
Friday, 7:00 p.m.: Good Friday Solemn Service, West Side Baptist Church
Saturday, 12 hours (6 a.m. – 6 p.m.): Holy Saturday Prayer Vigil – Pray, read your Bible or devotional materials, spend time with God. Even if you didn’t sign up for 30 minutes of time for the prayer vigil, you can still participate. Commit to 30 minutes of prayerful activity at a time of your choice in the comfort of your home.
Sunday, 7:00 a.m.: Easter Sunrise Worship, Ward Meade Park Church, led by West Side Baptist
Sunday, 10:30 a.m.: Easter Celebration Worship, West Side Christian Church