Dear friends in Christ,
It’s almost impossible for me to comprehend that next week is Holy Week. Time is all mushed together since I’ve been working at home due to the coronavirus. And none of the customary preparations for Holy Week are under way, because this will be a Holy Week unlike any other in my lifetime.
Holy Week is the most important week of the year for Christians, and within Holy Week, the Three Holy Days are at the heart of our liturgical life together. We disciples see so much of Jesus Christ’s love for us in Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve. We are reminded of what it means to follow the One who gave everything for us.
The rituals of these days mean more to me than I can express in words. Because of my work at Forward Movement, free of local obligations, I have spent Holy Week in some remarkable places the last few years. One year I spent most of the week at Salisbury Cathedral. Another year, I was in Jerusalem for what will stand out as one of the most remarkable Holy Weeks of my life. This year I was to be guest preacher in one of my favorite congregations.
I’ve had my moments of grief. Perhaps you have, too. There will be no grand palm processions. We won’t see the altar stripped bare on Maundy Thursday. The cross will not be venerated by a fervent congregation on Good Friday. We won’t kindle a blazing fire in the darkness of Easter Eve, moving into resounding praise in the first Eucharist of Easter. No new Easter dresses, or brass players, or fragrant lilies, or beloved hymns belted out on Easter Sunday. It’s just not going to be what I’ve longed for, what I expect.
And yet, all will be well.
Jesus has suffered for us and has poured out his life for us on the cross. Jesus has been buried in a sealed tomb. Jesus has been raised to new life, bursting forth to proclaim the triumph of God’s love through faithful women, devoted followers, and a community of disciples that spans the globe.
Everything about the love of God in Jesus Christ is true whether or not our churches are full, whether or not we carry out the sacred rituals. Without the liturgy and the sacraments, we are understandably bereft. But we always have God’s word.
In the days to come, I invite you to immerse yourself in the scriptures. Read the lessons, which you can find online. Ponder the depth and breadth of God’s love for us as told in the lessons appointed for this week.
If your congregation has streamed worship, by all means take part. Lots of churches across the world are making beautiful offerings online. Say the daily office if it is your custom. And I invite you especially to savor the riches of God’s word throughout Holy Week. As 1 Peter reminds us, “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever. That word is the good news that was announced to you.”
Courage for Caregivers
By Jaime Haith
Be inspired by looking at the fundamentals of the Christian faith, through scripture, to be encouraged in your role as a caregiver. This course is designed for those who are in a caregiving role and are looking for simple yet gracious inspiration.
Hear today’s Forward Day by Day reflection or find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast. Be sure to tune in to the newly available Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen to podcasts!
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