March 19, 2023-Holy Week is before us

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On Sunday, we begin Holy Week with our annual parade of palms and reading of the passion story. It can feel a bit like whiplash—from highest joy to deepest grief within an hour. But things changed practically as fast all those years ago. With fickle crowds and fearful leaders, a highly charged moment erupts in outrage, scapegoating and violence. Some say it was a long time in coming. And at the same time, it happened so fast.

So it often goes. Though in hind sight, we might be able to retrace the steps leading to tragic moments, they often take us by surprise. A loved one was just here a moment ago, and now, they are gone. We were feeling fine, and then the diagnosis. Where peace was once taken for granted, there is conflict. The world made sense, until it didn’t. 

During Holy Week, we walk deliberately through these turning points in Jesus’s life. We try to imagine how he felt when his friends betrayed and abandoned him, when the powers that be turned against him, when his embodiment of God’s loving and unwavering power cost him everything. Holy Week reminds us that we serve a God who doesn’t escape suffering, but enters in to it.

During Holy Week, we also turn attention to the sin and suffering of our day: children languishing in war-torn and poverty-stricken places; people fleeing violence they did not create; God’s children and creatures everywhere seeking safety, shelter, love and belonging. Holy Week reminds us not to run away from such suffering, but draw close to it.

Below you’ll find a number of opportunities to gather as we remember and retrace Christ’s steps next week. I hope you’ll find one or two that speak to you. Perhaps it’s the discipline of rising early for devotions, the contemplation of global art on Maundy Thursday (also live streamed), the effort of walking a few miles on Good Friday. Each is an invitation to slow down as we recall the moments that happened fast: moments that reveal who we are, who God is, and the grace that holds us to each other.

Pastor Jen