Holy Week-A Week of Anticipation

We are at the beginning of what is traditionally referred to as Holy week in the Christian tradition. It marks the last week of Lent and ends with Easter Sunday. It is a week full of anticipation.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday which celebrates the day that Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem riding on a donkey-as a king may have done. And the people respond by hailing Jesus as a king. Palm branches were waved-as the people would do for a visiting king. Then the people go a step farther and shout “Hosannah”-Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, they recognize Jesus as at least a prophet, and quite hopefully the Christ.

Thursday is Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper is celebrated and in some churches the church leaders will hold a foot-washing ceremony. Jesus washed his friend’s feet before they ate their last meal together. It is truly a moving experience when your pastor takes your smelly feet and gently washes and removes all of the lint and dirt off.

Friday is Good Friday. A terrible name. There is not much good about it. Typically the Good Friday service follows Jesus as he prays in the garden, is arrested, is tried by Pontius Pilot, his brutal beating and suffering and finally his death by crucifixion. The Passion of the Christ follows the Stations of the Cross. Traditionally these Stations of the Cross are where there are litergies and readings at each phase of Jesus journey to death. Another very moving service. All colors are stripped from the cross. The service ends in silence and sometimes darkness. Participants are encouraged to leave in silence.

Then there is the wait. Holy Saturday is typically spent in silent prayer.

But then there is Easter-the day that marks the resurrection of Jesus. The pastor stands before the congregation. Still in silence. Traditionally people will not have spoken since Friday. He extends his hands and shouts, “HE IS RISEN!” And the people respond, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!” And the Easter Sunday celebration begins. Fasts are broken and Catholics can eat beef without feeling guilty.

I explain all this for a couple of reasons. I am no longer a part of a liturgical Nazarene church, where Holy Week would have been celebrated and practiced. I am part of a church-plant, a new church-Trinity Family. We are an emerging church. We practice different liturgies, new things-our worship really rocks with a full rock band. And that is cool. We are ministering to a post-modern people. People’s lives are being changed by the love of Christ.

I miss the liturgy.

And finally this Easter will hold a special meaning for me and my family. Corbin Rielley, my 10-week-old will be baptized. I am looking forward to Easter Sunday with great anticipation.


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