Yesterday was the start of Holy Week. Along with the week that includes Christmas and Christmas Eve this is one of the most important weeks of the year for the church and for Christians. This past Saturday I started out Holy Week by attending Mass at Pax Christi Catholic Church in Rochester; they were celebrating the Passion. Yesterday morning I went to worship at Community Presbyterian in Rochester. Then later in the day I watched some of Church of the Resurrection’s (cor.org) feed of worship on my home computer.
All three services helped me spiritually (each in a different way) start Holy Week.
This Holy Week will be different for me. For the first time since 1992 I will only be leading worship on Maundy or Holy Thursday. This year I will feel more like a person in the pew than a pastor.
One quick advertisement—our new church is holding an Agape Feast this Thursday, April 9. It is being held at the Hampton Inn in Lino Lakes starting at 7:00 p.m. The Hampton Inn is at 579 Apollo Drive.
Holy Week is an incredible opportunity for the church, for people of faith, and for the world. This week I am praying that our world will be a different place because we celebrated the events of Jesus’ last week.
It’s powerful for me that two branches of the church—Protestant and Catholic—are celebrating Holy Week at the same time. Can the day be far away when the Orthodox branch always celebrates Holy Week at the same time? It’s meaningful to me to reflect that clergy all over the world are getting ready and finishing preparations for Holy Week. I’m guessing that these servants are stressed and excited; they are agitated, getting ready, looking forward to the week’s services, pondering possibilities, maybe a bit scared, and probably looking forward to Monday. It’s moving to me that billions of people on planet Earth will be celebrating the resurrection this Sunday.
This week is a time that Christians can claim distinctiveness from the rest of the culture. I remember one Good Friday worship service. It was an intense service that only a small number of people attended. As a leader of the service I was deeply touched by what happened during worship and by pondering Jesus’ death on the cross. I felt different after the service compared to before it. As I was driving home that night I turned on the radio and came to a sports talk show. I remember thinking, “how can these people care about a basketball game (it was Final Four weekend) instead of Jesus’ death? I turned off the radio and continued to reflect on what I had just experienced.
Before the weekend was over, though, I had turned on the TV and watched some basketball.
When I was leading worship on a weekly basis, I would always encourage people to worship on Thursday, Friday, and then Easter Sunday. It’s my experience that the week is much more meaningful when we experience the entirety of Jesus’ last week. I would encourage everyone who reads this blog to do the same.
Who knows--maybe we'll be different next Monday compared to today.