Holy Week has begun.
I write this as much to encourage myself as others. We all need encouragement to be what we are called to be and do.
Whatever be our churchmanship or denomination, let us resolve this week to stay with Jesus the Christ as closely as possible. That is, let us accompany him daily into and out of Jerusalem until the day, Friday, that he does not leave the city in the evening. And then let us stay with him in Jerusalem, at Calvary and by his tomb, until we are exhausted by devotion and commitment.
First, to those who use the classic Prayer Book of the Anglican Way. In "The Book of Common Prayer" (1662/1928) there is a Gospel Reading printed and provided for every day of this week and with it comes an Epistle and at least one Collect. Perhaps no services are provided daily or perhaps we cannot get to those provided in our church, but let not this be an excuse for us not to stay with Jesus. Let us all set apart, in a church or in suitable place, the time to read slowly and prayerfully the appointed Gospel text daily.
If we follow some other Lectionary let us do likewise. The main thing is to get into the sacred text and let its narrative become our narrative for this week.
Or let us take one of the Gospels, or two or more of them, and read systematically the Narrative of what happened from what we call Palm Sunday through to Holy Saturday. Each Gospel has a large amount of text devoted to what we call Holy Week and the Passion of the Incarnate Son of God (see e.g., Matthew 21ff; Mark 11ff; Luke 19ff & John 13ff.).
In our reading of the sacred text, let us use our imagination and our reason to visualize what we read, and then, let us place ourselves, each one of us, into that scene so that we actually watch Jesus, note his demeanour, hear his words, and see how others treat him. Especially let us join the women and the disciples at the foot of his Cross on Good Friday. This will take time and so let us make time, for we cannot meditate and contemplate quickly. BUT this is Holy Week and we are in mediation and through the mysterious union caused by the Holy Ghost part of the most important events ever to occur on planet earth!
Let us thank his Father and him for being there for us, for taking our place as our Representative and Saviour, and for providing for us through his Passion not only an example to follow in terms of patience, humility, submission to God etc., but also redemption, reconciliation and atonement with God his Father. Then let us examine ourselves and be contrite before him, asking how what he is doing for us actually ministers to our real needs and saves us today.
If we follow this route and identify with the Lord of glory in his suffering, death, and burial, then we shall be spiritually prepared to celebrate the Resurrection of the same Lord Jesus on Easter Day. The rejoicing on the Feast Day of feasts and the Festival of festivals will be real and profound for we shall know in our inner selves and in the congregation of the faithful, the sure presence and grace of the risen Lord Jesus. The Joy follows sorrow, the Resurrection follows the Crucifixion.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon