In some ways the journey of Holy Week is not for the timid. As we move from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, hailed by many along the way with the triumphal waving of palms, deeper into the events of the week, we are challenged, even offended, by the behavior recounted to us. The intimacy of the foot-washing prompts our discomfort with the intimacy of being served and of serving. The betrayal by Judas as the night unfolds offends our sense of honor and integrity. The abandonment by the disciples called to stay and pray with Jesus in the garden evokes our own memories of abandoning others or being ourselves abandoned. What follows is even more difficult to bear: fear and plotting by those with “authority”, mob mentality and reactivity, injustice and cruelty. A crucifixion. Just listening to the retelling of “other’s” actions makes us want to turn away. Then we are called to examine ourselves and our actions as they apply to our own relationship with Jesus. We are called to realize how we have offended Jesus, others in our lives, and ourselves. In short, how have we sinned; how have we driven the nails of our own making into the cross.
If I contemplate these alone, I am really want to hide for all of this. It is part of the reason we make this journey as a community of faith. There is strength in being present with others as we each commit ourselves to this spiritual journey. In the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 12:1-3) we are reminded that we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” We are encouraged to “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” It calls us to look to Jesus “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for … joy … endured the cross … so that you (each of us) may not grow weary or lose heart.”
I want to applaud your courage in making the journey however challenged, or successful, you consider your effort. What really matters is that you have come, and by coming can see that Jesus has gone the whole way for you, for each of us. Our burdens and transgressions, having been taken up on the cross, have been taken away in Christ’s willing journey to the tomb. In his resurrection to new life we are raised with him. New Life for all who believe!
By observation and experience, I can say that living as Easter people is always more challenging than we anticipate. It is so easy to return to old patterns and habits: those that burdened us down, led us away from God’s calling, or those of Lenten scouring. May this celebration of new life, of Easter life, of resurrected life, be full and wondrous for you.
On behalf of the Wardens and Vestry, Chapter, all the Staff, and the Clergy,