A Virtual Holy Week
There is a tendency in our culture to skip directly from the celebration of Palm Sunday to the celebration of Easter. Actually, let’s be completely honest: there is a tendency on the part of many to simply celebrate Christmas and Easter and that’s all. High Holy days are wonderful but there is so much more to the Christian faith. According to John’s Gospel, so much happened in Jerusalem the days between Palm Sunday and Easter that should not be overlooked. Phillip Reif, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, once said, “Any church that keeps preaching on the cross is not going to grow…because in our culture, what we are interested in is success, not sacrifice.” Perhaps this is why the Prosperity Gospel has such a strong following. We don’t do well with pain and suffering. It’s inconvenient. It’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward. We want the happy part. But in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, Good Friday will have a much deeper meaning this year.
Former Westminster Presbyterian minister KC Ptomey once preached a powerful Palm Sunday sermon where he said this:
“You don’t even notice what you miss by skipping Maundy Thursday and Good Friday until a loved one is walking in the valley of the shadow of death; until you are going through a divorce, or a child falls desperately ill or a friend betrays you, or a spouse gets cancer, or you pay attention, really pay attention to what’s going on in Zimbabwe or Darfur. You don’t notice what you miss until the world seems or you personally feel God-forsaken. Then you need something more than an empty tomb and a basketful of chocolates. You need a God who more than anyone, even the one who is the very closest person to you in all this world, knows your pain, your loss, your heartache, your terror at seeing your own life ebbing away or worse, the life of a loved one in the grips of an illness about which the doctors can do nothing. Over the years the theologians have tried to understand just why Jesus had to go through suffering and such an agonizing death. A view that has come to mean much to me is that Jesus suffered and died because he loved as God loves and to love as God does is to be vulnerable; to love as God does is to dare to enter into the pain and the heartache of the world.” (Ptomey “What’s Passion Got to do with It?” April 5, 2009)
Easter only makes sense when we first experience Maundy Thursday and the agony of Good Friday. This is all part of the power and meaning of Holy Week.
How do we do this from home this year. First, by taking the time to reading the scriptures on our own. Reread what John says about Jesus Final Days (chapters 12-20). Then, we are going to be sending out very specials online worship services for you and your family. The Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services will both be sent out at 9 a.m. on Thursday and Friday. Our special Easter service will be available starting at 7 a.m. Easter Morning, the time we usually have our outdoor sunrise service.
This will certainly be a Holy Week and an Easter we will never forget. But at the same time, it can also be powerful and transforming!
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