We are just a few days away from Holy Week, without doubt the center of the year for those of us who claim our identity as followers of Jesus. In this week, we not only remember historical events from 2,000 years ago, but we enter into the great mystery of our very salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
"Study for Crucifixion" (1947) by Graham Sutherland // Photo by Scott Gunn
It's tempting to skip bits of Holy Week. After all, there's a lot of church. After the week begins with Palm Sunday, we are meant to worship together on at least three occasions, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter. Those who skip the midweek services are missing out on the core of the Christian story and witness, much as if you went to a movie and stepped out after the opening credits and stepped back in only for the closing credits. For we followers of Jesus, there just isn't anything else more important than finding our way to our Christian community for the Three Holy Days.
Back in my parish priest days, I used to promise people that if they came to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening services and entered fully into them, their lives would be changed. Every year I made the same promise, and no one ever told me I was wrong. When we edit out part of the story of our redemption, we're chopping away at our ability to comprehend God's great love for us.
We celebrate everything that matters in these three days: Jesus' tender love, his absolute care for others, his challenge to remember him always, his betrayal, his agony, his death, his descent into hell, his disciples' confusion at God's mighty work in the resurrection, and, finally, boundless joy as the Good News becomes clear. It's all there.
I invite you--no, I implore you--to make time in your life for the Three Holy Days next week. You won't be sorry.
Almighty God, whose dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other that the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.