On this holy Sabbath, I take time to silence myself and reflect on this Holy Week. It has meant a great deal to me, for many reasons. Different aspects that have been prominent of the week and of the special observances in which I have participated with my fellow brothers and sisters, have all come together to be weaved into a beautiful tapestry of Holy Week beauty. Below you will find what this Holy Week has meant to me.
It has meant Simplicity. For Lent, I gave up the need to overproduce and the need to please everyone. Though these two go hand-in-hand, the need to overproduce took center stage in my mind, perhaps and hopefully because the Holy Spirit put it there. Giving up this need has been quite the challenge, and I must admit that I have failed miserably at it, though not without much growth. The Lenten Offering, as I like to call it, has developed in me a need and desire for simplicity. It drives me to seek and hopefully to find what it means to live life more simply. All that I have learned thus far is in itself an entire blog post, or perhaps a few, so more on that topic later.
Holy Week has meant shadows. I expected at the beginning of the week, as I knew and expected there to be a time of retreat into the shadows, for this to mean a time of emotional sadness and perhaps a touch of depression. Don’t know why I expected this to happen for only a day or two, but I think I subconsciously did. What I found, however, was that the light of Christ has shown so brightly upon me this week that I have found it difficult and even impossible to retreat into the shadows of depression. Instead, a retreat to the shadows has more meant to confess that Jesus indeed did suffer, and in this way he connected on an entirely new level with humanity. To believe in a Jesus who did not suffer is to believe in a God who would not really stoop to the lowest place, for that would be too far, unreachable, and quite the nuisance. More on that in a moment.
It has been reflective. This year, for the first time in a long time, Holy Week has not been a surface-level theology that is simply a dead story from a bajillion years ago; it has not been simply repeating what has been said a thousand times. I.E., it has not been Jesus on a felt board. It has had meaning, reflective meaning, deep meaning, that has penetrated my soul and disturbed me there. It has crept deep inside of me, to the depths of my being, grasped me there, rattled my world, and has changed me forever. It has been quite the spiritual experience.
This Holy Week has meant community. I have spent a great deal of time this week with the people in my church, and even a small amount of time with people of multiple denominations, which was pretty awesome. Since I joined my church choir recently, I have been a part of a good deal of the services for which my church has gathered together. And I have loved it. Every moment of it. I went through a long phase during college in which I hated church. I hated everything about it; the building, the people who always wore really nice clothes and drove fancy cars, the stale songs and stories, all of it. And for the first time literally in years, I have begun to fall in love once again with the local church. Working with the children and adult choir members of a church have a way of doing that to you. Community has been lived out and felt this week.
It has meant listening and following God’s guidance. I can’t spill all my guts here, but the week has meant change. Hard change, change that means sacrifice. But the gains and rewards are worth it. Thanks be to God.
It has meant submitting my will to that of my Perfect Father and Mother God. It has meant me saying, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
It has gotten me asking, “Who is my ruler?” Woven into the tapestry with the same color thread as simplicity, this question cuts deep. Will I allow certain things, even good things, to be my master, thereby forfeiting my soul, or will I lose my soul for the sake of finding it?
It has meant confessing the suffering of Jesus. Much like Peter, who said, “Never, Lord!” when Jesus told the disciples of His death, I find myself thinking, “Never, Lord! You could never suffer for me! It’s not worth it!” And the Lord says, “Get behind me, Satan. You do not have in mind the work of my Father” (found in Matthew 16:21-28, my rephrasing). This week during an ecumenical Good Friday service in the larger city community, my church’s Missions Minister spoke about Jesus’ thirst. The two-word sentence found in John 19:28, is a beautiful break in John’s portrait of Jesus as the Divine. After a lifetime of divinity, John gives us the picture of Jesus’ brush with humanity. He thirsts. Indeed, our fully-God-fully-human Savior, thirsts as He dies. For us.
It has meant rest, quiet, stillness. A difficult discipline for a Martha such as I. Also woven with the same color as simplicity, it has been brought right before my face that I have a problem with the discipline of rest. I am terrible at it. I would rather run around the block ten times before allowing myself to rest, even for a moment (and I hate running). It is against my very nature to rest and be quiet and still. And yet how necessary it is in bringing about the things of God.
My Holy Week has brought me to a new idea, which I like to call Post-Holy Week. Like Lent, for me it will be the giving up of something, in order to gain the world and my soul. I am giving up my need to be Martha. I am giving up my need to be Super Woman and never rest. I don’t think it is bad to be Martha; I just think I need to balance it out with some Mary time. I’ll let you know how that goes. For now, below you will find my Holy Week Prayer.
Blessings to all, and Happy Easter!
Holy Week Prayer
God of Day and God of Darkness,Bring my eyes before Your throne.
Let the noise and clamor cease;Be still, oh my soul.
Find rest, my soul, in Christ alone.Rest in His power, in quietness and trust.
May simplicity find its way into my life once more,May You do through it that for which it is intended.
Make me more like You,Oh God of Day and God of Darkness.
Meet me, O loving Christ, in the shadows of your death;Enshroud me with the quiet darkness, the heaviness of the weight of the world.
Once the work there is done,Once my heart has known darkness long enough,
Bring me forth to glorious day,May my life flower and blossom to glorious beauty.
That all the earth may know Your Name and Your Salvation,Oh God of Day and God of Darkness.