We are reaching the end of our journey through the season of Lent, having spent time reflecting on the life of Jesus and the living of these days. Now we approach the week that the church has called The Great Week, or Holy Week, where we draw even closer to keeping time with the life of Jesus, as we remember and worship together. In this week, we will hear the sound of hallelujah, passionate prayer, silver pieces rattle, a rooster crow, the pain of agony, and victorious joy.[pullquote_right width=”55%”]We begin to grapple with the agony of Holy Week and the steep road ahead of us.[/pullquote_right]
Palm Sunday is the sixth Sunday in Lent, and it is also the beginning of Holy Week. We wave palm branches as a sign of victory, watching Jesus ride a donkey, as a humble king, into Jerusalem. We will rejoice, but we also make that initial turn to face the events of the coming week, so this Sunday is also called Passion Sunday. We begin to grapple with the agony of Holy Week and the steep road ahead of us.
Along the road of Holy Week, we gather around the table with the disciples on Maundy Thursday, remembering the bread and the cup, and then we watch as Jesus gets up from the table, wraps a towel around him, and washes the disciples’ feet. The word Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, which is the origin of the word mandate. It refers to the new commandment that Jesus gives the disciples, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
On Good Friday, we will enter into the agony of the crucifixion, remembering the darkness of that day and the saddest day of the year. Jesus will be accused and imprisoned, judged and executed. We will mourn as we recognize the depth of God’s love for us. We walk through Good Friday because it is the only path to Easter morning.
Then on Holy Saturday we will sit in silence. We will wait, as the disciples waited, not knowing what would happen the next morning. We will wait, so that we will be surprised as well. For on Easter morning, we will gather to sing and to rejoice, knowing that the love of God is stronger than death. We will gather to say that there is more light in God than darkness in this world.
Following the end of Holy Week and of Lent, we will then enter into the season of Easter, or Eastertide, which is the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, where we celebrate the birth of the Church. On the Sunday following Easter, we will also gather for another important day, as we invite our college students to lead us in worship. On Sunday, April 27, we will worship on College Sunday.