The cheers of Palm Sunday will soon turn into the jeers of Good Friday and once again we have entered Holy Week. In this week, we re-hear, re-live and re-experience the passion story of Jesus Christ. We begin with the excitement and celebration of Palm Sunday where we celebrate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday, the last supper is re-membered and many of us will hear the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. (John 13:1-17) In this movement from king to servant, Jesus not only tells us to serve each other, but he sets the example through his own actions. His words to his disciples at the end of this story (John 13:34-35) have been a touchstone for my life and ministry. Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” This is what I aspire to as his disciple, for me this is the bottom line. It would be so nice to stay here in the story. To hear this call to action and know it is for us, but Holy Week and the passion story continue.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke share the story of Jesus going to a place called Gethsemane. They describe his fear and his anguished prayers to God, “if it’s possible, don’t let me suffer this way.” He continues, “However–not what I want but what you want.” (Matthew 26:36-46) Remembering this part of the story is so important for he shows us how to go through our own times of anxiety and fear. He trusts God even in the face of extreme suffering and death. He fully relies on God. He speaks of his trust in God and then as we re-hear and re-live the story of his trial, humiliation, and death he shows us that trust through his actions. He fully relies on God even through the cross. We go through times of suffering and adversity in our lives and in the life of the church where we are afraid of the future. This week reminds us to fully rely on God, to put our whole trust in God, in God’s love, in God’s power, in God’s faithfulness.
Easter Sunday as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection his trust is confirmed and affirmed. He is risen! And in this part of the story we are reminded and we re-experience hope, hope that as God raised Jesus, God will raise us also. Whether it is in our individual lives or in our life as a church, new life is not only possible but promised. That’s a story worth every moment of celebration, every alleluia of praise.
In the week after re-hearing, re-living, and re-experiencing the story of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, the Judicial Council will be ruling on the matters of passed at the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. Many of us await this ruling with fear and anxiety. I invite us to grasp hold of the Holy Week message and fully rely on God even with the future of our beloved United Methodist Church. Let us cling to the promises and hope of this season as we move into whatever future lays before us.
My prayer for you and for me is this traditional Celtic benediction:
May the Christ who walks on wounded
feet walk with you on the road.
May the Christ who serves with wounded hands stretch out your hands to serve.
May the Christ who loves with a wounded heart open your hearts to love.
May you see the face of Christ in everyone you meet
And may everyone you meet see the face of Christ in you. Amen.
Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter,