“How to Make A Week Holy”

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Cross over Sacristy DoorBy Pastor Manisha

Holy Week.

It is the one week out of the fifty-two weeks in your year that should be different. The word “holy” means to be set apart. Holy Week is the week you set apart from the rest of your weeks. Why? It is the week that Jesus, the Savior of the world, the one who saved you and me, accomplishes the work of trampling sin, evil, and death itself by undertaking the hard and tortuous walk to the Crucifixion. It is the week Jesus dies for you, for me, for the whole world. One week is so little for you and me to give to walk alongside the one who gives us so much. Your Holy Week should look, well, holy. It is seven days you set apart to do things a little differently because there is no greater gift than walking alongside the Lord as he makes his way to the cross.

Each day of Holy Week your church offers an opportunity to gather with your fellow followers of Christ and witness what Jesus undergoes for us.

On Palm Sunday weekend, April 8 and 9, we welcome Jesus to Jerusalem with loud shouts of “Hosanna!” (which means “Save us!”) and we wave palms of greeting in jubilant anticipation, for the Messiah has come to change the overthrow the ruling powers. Quickly, we learn the ruling powers will overcome him as we hear the Gospel of Matthew chanted and we now shout “Crucify him!”

Holy Monday and Tuesday bring to us the stories of Jesus’s last week on earth. We hear stories of how the religious authorities collude to put Jesus to death. We hear Jesus share why these things must happen to him.

On Holy Wednesday, we will have a dramatic service of light and darkness. Using a hearse (the name for a Tenebrae candelabra that holds fifteen candles) hand made by our own Christopher Wells, we will solemnly extinguish candles after each passage from the Word is read.

On Maundy Thursday (Maundy means “Commandment”) Jesus commands us to love one another as he has loved us. And just as he did that night of his Last Supper, we will wash disciples’ feet. We will then eat a meal with Jesus at the Lord’s Table and watch as he suddenly is betrayed in the hands of sinners.

On Good Friday, we gather at noon while he is being crucified, and hear the Gospel of John chanted. It is an eerie feeling being in church while our Savior is hanging on the cross. At the same moment in Detroit, Father Bill Danaher will be preaching one of Jesus’s Seven Last Words at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. In the evening, we will witness the Stations of the Cross as interpreted by Barnett Newman, whose Stations hang in the National Gallery of Art, with a choral response.

On Holy Saturday, when we believe all is over, there is nothing to do but wait, to keep vigil. What will God’s response be to our failing to see Love come down into our world? In the late morning, we will have a Family Easter Walk using the Stations of the Cross lovingly colored in by our church family during Lent. In the evening, we gather in dark and witness as the light that cannot be overcome comes to life again at the Vigil. We finish with a Paschal Feast.

And when your weekly rhythm is disrupted because your Holy Week is filled with many trips to church as you witness the Great Suffering and Desolation, believe me, there is nothing like showing up on Sunday morning, April 16, for the greatest surprise ever.