There are just some journeys I would rather not take. Trips to a department store or a dentist or a parent-teacher conference do not make it to my top ten places to visit. We cannot always choose our journeys. And then there are the passages that are necessary.
Holy Week is a time believers and beholders throughout the world observe not because it is attractive, alluring or even desirable. We trek through Holy Week because it is a necessary journey that Christ took and calls on us to be willing to do the same. The days of Holy Week come as the final week of Lent, immediately preceding Easter Sunday. It is this week that we are invited to focus on the “passion” or suffering and death of Jesus. To rush to the empty tomb of Easter without pondering the significance of Christ’s passion cheapens the depth of Christ’s sacrifice. Only through walking in the shadows of Holy Week can we best experience the light and hope of Resurrection morning.
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51)
Holy Week begins this Sunday which is known as Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday. We recall Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem accompanied by the waving of palm branches and the gleeful shouts of children.
The following Thursday is called “Maundy Thursday.” (The term Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum (from which we get our English word mandate). It is generally translated as commandment. There are a number of themes observed or commemorated on this day including the last meal with the disciples, which was probably a Passover meal, the institution of the Lord’s Supper or Communion, the betrayal of Judas, and the washing of feet. We also remember that it was on this night that Jesus prayed at Gethsemane and was handed over to the soldiers and arrested.
Contrast Maundy Thursday with Palm Sunday. Initially many were enthused about the inbreaking of God and his coming Kingdom. But when Jesus spoke of sacrifice and being willing to give all, the tone of the crowds changed. Indeed we discover that the disciples themselves did not understand.
Good Friday follows Maundy Thursday. The term “Good Friday” seems rather odd when considering what this day commemorates. This day remembers Jesus’ arrest (according the Jewish counting, Friday began at Sundown on Thursday), trial, suffering and crucifixion. The term “Good” probably came from “God’s Friday” just as “good-bye” comes from “God be with ye.” It is a dark day and is to be observed as such.
Finally, there is Holy Saturday. This is the seventh day of the week and so for the Jew was a day or rest or Sabbath. On this day Jesus rested in the tomb. Like Good Friday, Saturday is often observed as a day of fasting. It is a day we recall the words of the Psalmist: …Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)It is a journey we are each called to make. Join me this coming week as we observe and contemplate Holy Week. Grace and peace be yours, Greg