Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection. - from this Sunday's opening collect
I used to attend a church when I was in my early 20's, and the organist/choir director, who was always a grumpy kind of person, would get exceedingly grumpy around this time of year. And he got grumpier and grumpier as Good Friday approached. It was not because he had extra work to do - this was not an Episcopal church and they did not have many extra services in Holy Week. It's just that he was living into the season. Living into the difficult truths that Lent and Holy Week present to us if we are paying attention. The minister told me, "Yeah, he's always like this at this time of year. He's our resident Jeremiah." Would that we all would feel the sting of reality so keenly.
Holy Week is a liturgical marking of the cycle that defines our human life - and our hopeful faith. The death and resurrection cycle is all around us - in nature, in relationships, in our health, in our stories. It is a difficult cycle, as we each have come to know in all kinds of ways. And sometimes, resurrection can seem hard to come by. Sometimes things just seem to keep degrading or getting worse. And we find ourselves wondering: When will resurrection arrive?
But even after the significant losses, wounds and hurts of our lives, we hold by the promise that new life is always coming along behind them. It will not be the life we used to have - it'll be new. It may not be the life we would have chosen if given the choice. And it may not be here today or tomorrow. But it is coming. Trusting that this is true allows us to risk being faithful in a world that scorns goodness and truth so painfully often.
Our Holy Week schedule at St. James is HERE. The Episcopal liturgies of Holy Week are sometimes fun, sometimes somber, always very beautiful. They put a spiritual seal on the many death and resurrection cycles that we all are faced with in this life. The liturgies bring our love of God into even the darkest places. They remind us that no matter how difficult the descent, we are all in the pains of life together and will together support one another in looking toward the coming light.
We will start this Sunday with a Palm Sunday parade and we will celebrate next Sunday with Easter joy. The dip in between is easy to avoid at church, but not in life. So I invite you to "go there" liturgically this year - to walk in the way of his suffering as our collect says - and allow God to enter your most painful places. Even if that makes you a little grumpier, I have found that the journey of Holy Week contains gifts of deep peace.