The liturgical season of Lent, followed by Holy Week, is my favorite time in the church year. For pastors and lay leaders, Holy Week is like marathon—at least four different sermons in an eight-day span that covers every emotion imaginable. You have to reflect on the Passion story—following Jesus to the cross, finding an empty tomb, and rejoicing over the risen Lord. Holy Week plays upon every emotion—excitement at Jesus’s possession into Jerusalem, resentment and jealousy of the chief priests and the scribes, confusion for the disciples, sorrow for Jesus’s mother and other women, pain and anguish of the crucifixion, and joy at seeing the risen Lord. Every detail builds upon the next, and if you miss a detail, you are easily confused.
I love reflecting on the events of Holy Week, because they remind me Jesus Christ feels every emotion I feel. Jesus is celebrated when he processes into Jerusalem, seeks relief and strength as he prays in Gethsemane, is betrayed by Judas Iscariot, feels resentment and scrutiny from the chief priests and the scribes, undergoes pain and suffering when he is beaten and crucified, and enters into joy in his resurrection. Jesus goes through it all on our behalf, so we never have to be separated from God the Father again.
I love reflecting on the events of Holy Week, because they remind me how I am never alone when I struggle and how I have prevailed over the devil. I have experienced my own “holy weeks”—when I got divorced, when I had MRSA, when I am at odds with a friend or family member, when I had my skiing accident, and at other times as well. I have struggled with having cerebral palsy and not being “normal.” After thirty-two years, I have finally accepted my cerebral palsy as a blessing and have felt raised to a new understanding of purpose in the world. Each time I suffer a loss, God raises me back up again, and I feel anew again. God finds me in the darkness and leads me to the light through Jesus Christ.
I love reflecting on the events of Holy Week, because they reminds me God is with me through the good times and the bad times. Jesus praises God the Father at his baptism and prays to God the Father before Judas Iscariot betrays him. I can go to God the Father in times of need and rejoice with him in good times because he understands my most inner feelings and thoughts. I do not have to hide anything from God because he has been in the world—been there, done that—and has the scars to prove it. And Jesus has no problem doing it again and again and again and again and again and again…
Holy Week is a love letter to us from God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son to die for our sins so that we can be in a relationship with him. God will not allow our sins to get in the way of us being in a relationship with him, even if he has to pay the ultimate price by sacrificing his only son for the forgiveness of our sins through his grace and love.
Thanks be to God!
Photo Credit: Amber Sue Photography