This week is my favorite week of the year. Holy Week has become hugely important in my life, in my faith walk, and in my worship of God. I cannot imagine a spending that week on the beach as some Christians do as they take vacation. I love the beach! I love Holy Week and all that it means even more!
I grew up in a church tradition where Holy Week was not observed. No church I ever attended in my childhood had Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services. I attended my first Holy Week worship in college. Of course, the churches I attended in my youth celebrated Easter Sunday. Easter was big for us as in most churches. That was obvious because the church musicians pulled out all the stops that day, we saw people in worship we hadn't seen since Christmas Eve, and more than a few were dressed in the newest and latest fashions. Yes, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus in worship, but we had not journeyed with him in worship to the empty tomb... from his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through celebrating his Last Supper, and finally walking with him to the cross.
Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter without the observance of Holy Week prior is like reading the last chapter of a suspense novel where we discover the butler did it but we have no idea why or where or how or what for. In reading the last chapter of the book we miss out on the significance of why the last chapter was written in the first place. In going from Palm Sunday worship right into Easter Sunday worship, I missed out on the all-important middle of the story. I have told folks over the years that when I started observing Holy Week, Easter Sunday took on even more significance for me.
There is something deeply wrong with a Christianity where Easter Sunday is one of the most well attended services of worship during the year and Good Friday one of the least. I know there is more than one reason for this phenomenon, but I strongly suspect that part of it is we believe we can have the victory without the bloody battle, the joy without the sorrow, life without death. Several parishioners over the years in various churches have told me that they do not attend Good Friday worship because it is too depressing. But the truth of the matter is that without cross there can be no resurrection.
As we are now coming to the end of another Lenten season, I am very much looking forward to this week. It is an opportunity for me, along with the collective Body of Christ, to travel with Jesus as he takes his most significant journey to the cross and out the other side of the empty tomb into new life. And we must travel that road with him; for he has made the journey on our behalf.