‘Twas the Friday before Holy Week
and all through the Church
for sermons & coffee
all pastors did search.
Friends, colleagues: deep breath. The long Lenten marathon is rounding the bend to the steepest hill known as Holy Week. The Easter finish line can be seen in the distance, but the work to get there demands every bit of our minds & bodies & spirits.
Sidebar: Right there is the reason I don’t run. Hills. Breathlessness. Pain. I get my exercise from the liturgical year, thank you very much.
Good news: Jesus will rise on Easter Sunday regardless of how Holy Week unfolds. Yes, it matters how Holy Week unfolds. Yes, I hope we all have splendidly meaningful Holy Weeks in whatever ways are appropriate to our diverse contexts. But no, Holy Week does not hinge on our liturgical performance just like Easter does not hinge on a basket of candy.
Here are some tidbits of Holy Week encouragement and insight from colleagues around the RevGalBlogPals blogging network:
+ “Be yourself,” writes Pat at Swimmer in the Fount. It’s an important affirmation in all liturgical seasons, but reading Pat’s blogpost in the week before Easter reminds me that the gifts of God’s life & grace are given to each one of us in all of our particularities. What God needs from us during Holy Week is not our death as we collapse in fatigue, but our life in multiplying love & hope.
+ Mary at Sicut Locutus Est gets to the heart of Holy Week and Easter: “I just want help gazing at Jesus.” Presumably we’re all preaching, teaching, protesting, praying, witnessing, loving because this Jesus guy means something to us. What does Jesus mean to us (which is different than “What does he teach us”)? How does Jesus delight us, keep us company, satisfy our spirits? As we prepare for these holy days, Mary encourages: “Try inspiration, illumination, pathos, identification, awe, contemplation, devotion and love, gratitude, and praise.”
+ Recognize “everyone grieving someone,” to borrow from Maren’s poetry at Gifts in Open Hands. The stories of Jesus during Holy Week, the suffering of each station of the cross — these aren’t memories of something that happened long ago. These are our stories too:
“ones that happen in nations,
ethnic cleansings, lynchings, pogroms,
betrayals, wars, walls, hatreds,
land destroyed and seas,
horrors of illness,
miscarriages in refugee camps,
babies who die because they are hungry.”
You’ll want to read the entirety of Maren’s poem to hear its beauty and hope.
+ “Inevitably we bring our own assumptions” to Holy Week and Easter, writes Sally at Eternal Footsteps, including our foregone conclusions about the “why” of Easter and Jesus. Sally offers a necessary prayer: “So come Spirit of Christ … give us fresh imaginations.”
What additional encouragement and wisdom would you offer your colleagues? What post-it notes have you taped to your computer or refrigerator to remind you of the essence (and the details) of the liturgical work ahead of you? How are you grounding your spirit and focusing your perspective for Holy Week? Join the conversation in the comments!
Many blessings and deep gratitude for your faithful work this week.
Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, blogger, and soccer mom. Her upcoming book, Denial Is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith) with co-author Martha Spong, reflects on childhood memories of organizing the church nursery, harboring secret resentment of labyrinths, and other stories of faith.
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