With the procession of palms, Christians around the globe start the celebration of Holy Week. For the western church, Palm Sunday (or Sunday of the Passion) is tomorrow, marking the beginning of the week that ends with the resurrection on Easter.
We remember Christ’s passion, beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We remember and join with the chorus of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna!”
On Facebook this week I have seen the excitement of a great number of friends. Some are anxiously awaiting the birth of a child. Others, are just leaping for joy as their underdog alma mater has won a game in the midst of the craziness of March Madness.
We journey to the upper room with Jesus and his disciples. We join in the feast, and remember that the body and blood is for us. We let the king serve us, washing our feet, just as we are called to serve others.
In the news this week, I have seen stories of politicians and leaders. I have seen examples of people picking up and serving for the common good. I have also seen others who instead of an opportunity to get on their knees and listen, choose to speak. I think we’re probably all guilty of this.
We pray in the garden with Jesus. We fight to stay awake like the disciples. We want to save Jesus, we want to save ourselves. Yet, Jesus is betrayed and stops the human desire for violence and heals an injured man who is one of his captors.
Through the wonders of social media, I have learned of the heart breaking news of the death of a newborn to dear friends. My heart breaks, yet knowing my friends, I know that they deeply believe and understand the promise and hope of the resurrection. This gives me great solace as I lift them in prayer.
We witness Christ before the high priests and Pilate. We hear, and perhaps even join in the chorus of “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.”
I see the stories of protests and politics. I hear the chants of “Build that wall,” and other such remarks. I wonder, maybe, we’re all no better than the crowd in the square chanting, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.”
We go to the cross on Golgotha. And are stunned by the love and promise that are on display when even at the point of death, Jesus asks God to forgive us, and promises another person, on a cross beside him, paradise.
As my heart breaks for dear friends at the loss of their newborn, I also lift up another dear friend who lost a good friend who served as a bridesmaid in her wedding. Holy Week seems to be starting awfully heavy this year for many dear ones.
We mourn in the darkness as Jesus’ body lays in the tomb. We await the hope of the resurrection, knowing the rest of the story to unfold. But still, we go to the garden that morning with Mary, mourning, yet soon to be dancing.
In the midst of all of these things, the deepest of human emotions, and experiences, we come to our knees and are reminded that God in Christ, is “for you.”
For all of you who are grieving this week, know that I hold you in prayer. I pray that the hope of the resurrection and the promise of God’s peace enfold and surround you this day and every day.
For all of those of you who are leaders, pastors, musicians, and others preparing for the busyness of Holy Week, please remember that you are worshiping too. Take the time to let the emotions come. Ponder anew questions of the passion. And rest assured of the promise we hold because of it.
How is Holy Week starting for you this year? What is on your heart, mind, and soul?