What I’m Thinking: Holy Week

This will be a different kind of Holy Week from those we are accustomed to. It bears some close resemblance, however, to the very first Holy Week.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about Holy Week, an unfamiliar Holy Week for many of us, but not one that is unprecedented in the history of the Christian Church. Churches have been closed because of widespread contagious illness before. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

It is a sensible precaution. It is a way of reducing the burden on our healthcare providers. It is a way of preserving life for our friends, our neighbors, and for countless strangers.

It is also not unprecedented in the gospels themselves. The events of Holy Week began on Palm Sunday with great crowds, and they continue with Jesus interacting with large groups of people throughout the week, gathered primarily in the Temple. As the week continued, however, we find that Jesus gathered fewer and fewer people about him.

On Thursday, it’s just that inner circle, the twelve, who join him for the meal, and one, we remember, left early in order to betray him. Later that evening he gathered his disciples for prayer and then took just three of them (Peter, James, and John) aside for deeper prayer. He himself prayed; they slept.

Then the story moves into much more isolation for Jesus and for his closest friends. Yes, there’s plenty of soldiers and judges and priests and governors and all their hangers-on and lackeys in the story, but Jesus faced his trial alone, without his friends. His disciples scattered. They faced the fear and the uncertainty without even one another.

On Good Friday, Jesus’ sense of separation was so acute that he would be led to quote the 22nd Psalm. In Aramaic: “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani?” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

None of his closest associates – at least among the men – were even present for his burial. His closest associates among the women had to stay at a distance and look on.

Even when we get to the glory of Easter, we still do not find it occurring amongst crowds and large assemblies of people. Just a few women make their way to the tomb. Just a few see Jesus after he’s risen. Just a few.

For most of that Easter day, they are still in their separate places of hiding and fear, and it’s only gradually that the Easter dawn dawns upon them. Easter dawn takes hours in the Gospels.

So, ours this year is a well-founded Holy Week, founded in the experiences of our ancestors in the faith, founded in the Gospels themselves. So I invite you, in your own homes and improvised work places beneath your own roof, to improvise as well that place of deep connection to our God, of deep thanksgiving for God’s gifts.

This is Holy Week. May it be truly holy for you and for all whom you love.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on April 6, 2020

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