17 Mar Holy Week
Holy Week commences in just three days with the observance of Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday marks the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to begin the annual Jewish festival of Passover. It was to be his last Passover, of course. He entered the Royal City to the acclaim and adulation of large crowds. A few short days later, the crowds had been whipped into a frenzy and were shouting insults and demanding his execution.
During Holy Week the church commemorates Maundy Thursday which was Jesus’ “last supper” with his disciples (and made indelibly famous by Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th century painting.) Good Friday is a somber day marking the day of crucifixion. Holy Saturday is dedicated to praying and waiting before Holy Week climaxes in the glorious celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
We are a culture that loves to celebrate but struggles with how to handle loss and grief. But, it does us all a great disservice to wave our palm branches, singing “hosanna” on Palm Sunday, then move straight to the “hallelujahs” and trumpet blasts of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” of Easter without stopping during Holy Week to contemplate why Easter is such good news. Let’s not be in such a rush to get to the Day of Resurrection. We still have some work to do in these final days of Lent.
In 1707 Isaac Watts wrote the lyrics to the hymn we know as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” I cannot improve upon what Watts did 300 years ago, so I invite you to pray and meditate on these words as the shadow from the cross begins to lengthen in the upcoming week:
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God;
all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood.
See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down;
did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small;
love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
Wishing you grace and peace this Holy Week,