Blog: Preparation for Holy Week (05/04/22)
BY TOM EARLY – ST. EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF ALBAN
As the church prepares to walk with Christ the week before his death, I wonder how you are preparing for this occasion of holy remembrance. This is a very special time for Christians around the world. While we do well to remember the life of Jesus throughout the year, it is a time when these most intimate and visceral last days come to life through liturgy, preaching, and the reading of Holy Scriptures. The Last Supper, the washing of the feet, the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, the condemnation of Pilot, the weeping of Mary, the passion, the crucifixion and the burial of Jesus – all this is so staff. We, the faithful, are drawn into these stories and Holy Week brings them to life.
Christians are able to walk this week with hope, however. We know the story doesn’t end on Good Friday. But what makes this time of holy remembrance so important is that it sanctifies our own Good Fridays. Many of us know the despair that those gathered at the cross knew. We have been heartbroken by this cold world – by betrayal, by denial and by death. When we face our own difficult times, our own Good Fridays, Holy Week reminds us that Christ knew the cross so that we know he was with us.
I saw part of Holy Week in a movie a few years ago. “Just Mercy,” chronicles the work and ministry of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative. Based on the book of the same name, the film focuses on another man sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. Bryan Stevenson walks with death row inmate through failed appeal after failed appeal. For Bryan, the inmate, and everyone at the EJI, it felt like Good Friday every day when justice was not served.
Holy Week gives Christians the courage to go through such days. It emboldens us not to ignore the ways in which justice remains undone for so many in our society, but to confront them and join God in their uprooting. As you prepare for the days ahead, I might recommend reading The Passion of Jesus in one of the Gospels one night and watching “Just Mercy” the next. The world still has too many Good Fridays. Maybe it could use a few more people who know what’s happening on Sunday.