Spoiler Alert … Why Holy Week Matters

Raise your hand if you’ve ever skipped to the end of a book to decide if it is worth reading all the way through … or jumped to the last chapter on the DVD menu … used the ‘lightening speed’ feature on your DVR … asked someone to just get to the point.

You see where this is going. We can be impatient with the slow unfolding of a narrative. It is important to notice, however, that the Gospels take the opposite approach to the last week of Jesus’ life. In all four of the Gospel accounts the story of Palm Sunday to Easter morning takes up nearly half of the entire book. Clearly this last week of Jesus’ life, and especially the events of Thursday through Sunday, were a very big deal to the early believers.

This year, what if you plan ahead with those who share your daily and weekly life to give what we now call “Holy Week” sustained attention this year? Some of those days are for gathering. The two Sundays, obviously: Palm Sunday with its anticipatory Hosanna’s and Easter Sunday with its exuberant Hallelujah’s. We will gather for our normal times of worship on both Sundays, with a special celebration between the services on Easter. These are days to celebrate the good news that from Triumphal Entry to Empty Tomb God’s sovereign love is the throughline of this story.

Two other days are also essential. Maundy Thursday, (which means ‘Commandment Thursday’) is a day to gather around the table and remember Jesus’ Last Supper. This year we will gather around tables in Howell Auditorium for an all ages worship service beginning at 6:00pm to remember Jesus’ command to love. As we exit through the garden we also remember that this evening ended with the invitation to watch and pray as Jesus agonized in Gethsemane.

Good Friday is the day to reflect solemnly on Jesus’ trial, condemnation, crucifixion, and burial. Remembering that Jesus was buried before sundown, we will focus our gathering for prayer in the lunch hour from noon-1pm. If you can’t gather at the sanctuary you are invited to join the prayer vigil online from work or home on your own lunch hour. The command to love, especially through watchful prayer, directs us through the dark days of loss and waiting that resist the ‘skip chapter’ feature on the remote.

Lord Jesus, as we continue our Lenten journey toward the week that changed everything forever for everyone in every age, please give us the grace to change a few things, for a few days, to better learn to watch and pray with those who await your resurrection hope in our days. Amen.

Holy Week 2023 begins April 2

April 2: Palm Sunday worship, 9 and 10:45 am
April 6: Maundy Thursday, 6-7pm, Howell Auditorium (in person only)
April 7: Good Friday Noontime Prayer Vigil, 12-1pm, Sanctuary and online
April 9: Easter Sunday worship, 9 and 10:45am with Easter Egg Hunt and festivities between services