Packing Holy Week Items pt.1
April 12, 2014
As I journey down the path toward a sane faith, I want to travel light. I don’t want to pack any religious rituals that I’m tempted to do just because I’ve always been told to do them. Nor do I want to pack a lot of preconceived notions. I don’t, however want to leave something behind that later I will regret not having with me.
Lent, Holy Week and Easter are times that are rich with traditions, rituals and symbols. There are too many to take with me, and truthfully some I simply don’t like. The foot washing thing—I’m sorry but that doesn’t do anything for me. I think we’re trying to make an ancient practice, which fit in first century Israel into an event that doesn’t fit into our present time. Perhaps if we tried to come up with some action that fit today while also communicating the message of servant hood and humility I’d be more willing to include it in my packing list.
The Easter Vigil is something I’ll leave behind, too. It is too long and too boring. It is like a final trial that Christians have to endure—a final misery—before they can experience the joy of Easter. No thank you! I’ll enjoy the Easter joy without it.
There are some Holy Week images that I want to take with me. The procession of palms on Palm Sunday is one of them. Most of the time we refer to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as his triumphal entry. That image has rarely spoken to me. I see Jesus’ entry more as an army coming to the battlefield for the final battle. It’s a little like what Russia is doing on the eastern boarder of the Ukraine right now, or what we did at the beginning of Desert Storm.
I am amazed at how resistant earthly powers are to something new. Jesus was bringing in a kingdom of love and service, but the powers that be couldn’t forsake their weapons—their political and military might. I am reminded that living in the kingdom as a disciple of Jesus Christ is not easy and that I should expect a lot of resistance.
I’m also amazed at the fickleness of people. They welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna,” “Son of David,” and “Messiah.” They thought that Jesus would overthrow their oppressors and that he would provide them with security and comfort. How wrong they were! In a few days their welcoming cries had turned to “Crucify him!”
I can be critical of the crowds, but when I am, I must also be critical of myself. How often I want my religion to give me security and comfort. So many times I pray for the pain and discomfort to be taken away, a winning lottery ticket, and a parking spot near the front door of the supermarket. I even have the audacity to get upset when God doesn’t answer my selfish, self-centered prayers. I know better than this, but the temptation is great. I know that my walk of faith is not necessarily for my benefit—so that God can dote on me—rather it is so that I may love God and serve others.
I need to remember what happened on Thursday evening when Jesus celebrated the meal with his disciples. Yes, I know that it is the establishment of Holy Communion—but it’s more than that for me. What sticks out to me when I hear the story is the fact that Judas was served both the bread and the wine. Judas was included—even with what he was about to do. What a picture of love. What a picture of forgiveness, and what a picture of inclusion. When I hear that story, I realize that so often I’m like Judas. I sell out Jesus for a lot less than thirty pieces of silver. Yet, Jesus never turns his back on me. Jesus never punishes me in a way that would adversely affect our relationship together. Jesus never excludes me from his family.
Yeah, I need to take Palm Sunday with its procession of palms and Maundy Thursday (sans the washing of feet) with me on my journey toward a sane faith. I need to be reminded that at times I’m not a very lovable person, but Jesus still loves me. There are times when I may exclude myself, but Jesus always includes me. I may have difficulty forgiving myself, but with Jesus my sins have already been forgiven.
Yeah, there are a few items from Holy Week that I will pack for my journey toward a sane faith.
What will you pack for your journey?
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