Welcome to Holy Week! You know you wish this holiday felt like the biggest one on the Christian calendar, but let’s be honest: we all put a lot more thought into Christmas.
Gosh, don’t rub it in. I know I’m just a secular lemming following everyone down the cliff of commercialism, but do we have to start there?
It’s actually the perfect place to start.
Because I need a slap upside the head?
Because the holidays aren’t little kids on their birthdays, throwing a fit because they didn’t get the GI Joe with the Kung-fu grip. Holy Week just is. It doesn’t need us sucking up to feel important.
What do you mean, sucking up?
They don’t need your effort to mean something. And Christmas isn’t looking over its shoulder at Easter, saying “Suck it, Resurrection!”. So just because you feel like you give Easter short shrift compared to your Christmas prep does not mean Holy Week is filing a cosmic complaint form.
True. I guess—I know I say this a lot, but I just want it to feel meaningful. I want to know I’m entering in enough.
Entering in sounds like passing through a doorway, right?
Well, when you walk into a room, do you think, “I really gave my all in that entryway! Talk about good form for arrivals!”
Look, holidays are open doors to pass through. Gateways. Way stations. Pathways. Not ends in themselves that only the hardworking achieve.
I’m not following.
It’s not an Olympic event you’re entering. It’s a way to mark time. Only that. A month or week or day with a special tag on it that says pay attention and here you are.
Should that lessen my anxiety?
No shoulds here. But it might. Listen. Good Friday is just a day. Like your birthday is just a day. Or Monday is just a day. But it’s also special, chosen, set apart to notice in its ordinary being. A day where you take note of its meaning, of its history, of your participation in that history and how you might reflect on your role. A day to remember intentionally. And also a day that—without you having to organize anything!—millions of fellow believers are remembering and intending and noticing and kneeling.
You just have to show up, and you’re already part of something bigger than yourself. No special effort required.
But what if I want to make it even more special?
Then do. Do it joyfully. Just don’t do it because you’re telling yourself you should or ought to. If these are parties honoring Jesus let’s be motivated guests, not begrudging ones.
But I think you’re being naïve. These days carry weight. They demand something of us.
They are days. Not Mafiosos. Really, they’re not demanding anything of you.
But okay, you feel a pull. A necessity. Does that have to be a bad thing? Or could it be your own heart yearning to participate?
But I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to make it special.
The day is honored with or without you. You don’t make Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection special. But if you want to intend something—might we suggest reading through the Holy Week services in the Book of Common Prayer? They are poetry, and time-tested. And free, online!
I could do that. That actually sounds—special.
Right? Anytime we can set down our sense that faith is UP TO US we will find Jesus grabbing our hands. Can we pray for you?
Jesus: may this Holy Week be like a poem: shaped by tradition and rules and cadences that have meaning beyond us—that contain significance and history without us even trying. Father, we need all the help we can get to enter into your death and resurrection. We need you with every breath. May the beauty of this week—both its darkness and its dawning—move us. May we have our hearts open, our ears listening, and our eyes ready to see you moving. Amen.
May this Holy Week be full of blessing for all of you. I’ll return in April!