The transition from March to April brings with it the hope of spring. It has always made perfect sense to me that it is during this seasonal change that we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. A season that is abounding with images of re-creation and new life is the perfect time to remember the resurrection of Jesus and the new life he offers to each of us. Holy Week is a special time in the life of the Church, carrying us from Palm Sunday to Easter morning. This year, in particular, Holy Week will provide many opportunities for us to be interrupted from our daily routines and remember the significance of Christ’s sacrifice of love. Too often we go from Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to Christ’s resurrection on Easter without being pulled into the significance of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. My prayer is that this year will be different.
On Palm Sunday we will receive new members, some of which will join through baptism. As we join
together in a combined worship service to welcome these new members and these newly committed disciples of Christ, we will each be invited renewing and reaffirming our own vows of faith.
Then on Maundy Thursday, we will join together in the evening for Love Feast. “Maundy” comes from the Latin word meaning “command” because it is on this day that we remember Christ’s new commandment in John 13:33-35 to love one another as he has loved us. Jesus gives the commandment as he leaves the last supper with his disciples and enters into the night of his arrest. Love Feast is an important time to gather as the body of Christ and remember Christ’s last supper as well as his call for us to love one another. As Christ gathered in community to receive love and support, we too gather at the Love Feast tables to receive the love and support of this particular community through feetwashing, the sharing of a meal, and through receiving communion. It’s an outward symbol of our commitment to one another as we seek to follow in Christ’s footsteps together.
On Good Friday, we will remember Jesus’ journey to the cross in the evening with the cantata “In My Place: Remembering Christ’s Sacrifice of Love.” During this cantata, the Temple Choir will bring beautiful, contemplative music and several speakers will provide eye-witness accounts from characters present at the cross. It promises to be a profoundly thoughtful service for us to remember Christ as he journeys to the cross for each one of us.
And finally, of course, we gather together for worship on Easter Sunday to sing of Christ’s conquer of the grave and praise God for the new life we find in Jesus.
Pastor Tim and I have been wondering if the Hagerstown Church of the Brethren will take us up on
all of these opportunities for reflective worship during Holy Week, and we are honestly not sure. It’s a big commitment to come to worship on Palm Sunday at a different time so we can be all together, to participate in Love Feast on Thursday and then come out again for the cantata on Good Friday. It is much easier to come to worship on Easter morning without taking time to be interrupted by the holy moments of Holy Week. So that is my challenge to you, take advantage of these times to gather during Holy Week. We cannot have the fullness of joy that comes on Easter morning without gathering as a community of love on Maundy Thursday and experiencing the darkness of the cross on Good Friday. We will be more able to understand the depth of God’s love if we take the time to truly encounter the fullness of Christ’s sacrifice together as the Church. May we all fully enter into this holy time!