Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Holy Week

Holy Week (Palm Sunday to Easter) is a special week in the life of the church. On Palm Sunday, Jesus enters Jerusalem, the political/religious center of Jewish life. On a donkey, Jesus rides. Roman soldiers and warriors ride horses. Not Jesus. He comes in peace.

Some say that this was Jesus' happiest day. For a few hours at least, everyone put down their defenses, I guess, and laid down palms and cloaks on the way. The long-awaited Messiah has arrived.

The church always assigns that we read the Palm Sunday story (this year Mark 11-1-11) but then calls for us to read the whole passion story at worship. We rarely do this. What congregation would stand to be read to that much in one sitting.

You see, the church knows that in the beauty and joy of Palm Sunday is an underside. Palm Sunday carries in its bosom the cross. Beneath all the palms is our weary longing and unmet needs. Here lie all our prides and prejudices. Jesus will just about offend everybody before the week's out.

A woman will let her hair down. Letting your hair down means the same thing in all cultures. A woman will let her hair down and anoint Jesus' feet. Judas will complain that this perfume should be sold and the money given to the poor. But, this one who has been forgiven much, loves much. She does more than she knows. It is a sign of things to come.

One will betray; all will forsake Jesus after they have had Passover and have prayed at Gethsemane. Roman soldiers will come. A mock trial will follow. He will be beaten, and stripped and hung out to dry.

Holy week? We all know that as we walk these days together that more is going on here than meets the eye. The God of the universe is involved in this somehow. The Son of God will sink to the depths of our human experience. And, for us, all of this will be redemptive. For the one who is lifted up will draw us to himself.

He still does draw us. Across time and space, across the years, Jesus of Nazareth crucified draws us like no other. And, even from the cross offers us forgiveness and hope.

Holy week indeed.
Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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