When invited to write a short piece for the Chronicle, I promptly responded: “Of course, I’d be glad to.” That’s a response I give far too often without thinking about it—plus it looked like a no-brainer to write about: 1) why all of the Holy Week services are important to me and 2) how they help prepare me for Easter. Actually, they weren’t no-brainers. They led me to do a lot of thinking and reflecting on my faith and Calvary’s role in that journey.
The first question was easy. All of the Holy Week services are important to me because celebrating Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday without remembering, understanding, and honoring his sacrifice would be, in my heart and conscience, unthinkable. Given that I cannot bear to watch depictions of the crucifixion, I am grateful beyond measure for Calvary’s Holy Week services. They make it possible for me to grow in my faith and more deeply understand the emotional and physical pain and death that Jesus endured to show us the way to everlasting life.
The second question, “How Holy Week services help prepare me for Easter,” had me thinking and feeling more about the question. Holy Week’s solemn processions, the ancient scriptures, our priests’ sermons that remind us that our faith is based, in part, on the horrific as well as the divine, and the stripping of the church are always powerful reminders. What makes those reminders even more meaningful is that during Holy Week, I especially am moved by the music. Listening to, or singing along with the exquisite voices of Calvary’s choir, these words “To mock your reign, oh dearest Lord, they made a crown of thorns…..they did not know, as we know now, that glorious is your crown” move me close to tears even as I write.
Even more powerfully, what immediately comes to my mind is a vivid recollection of a large wooden cross, outlined in flickering candles during an evening service at Calvary on Good Friday a few years ago. The foot of the cross was resting on the floor; the cross lay partially on the steps leading to the chancel. When we were invited to come forward to pray at that cross, I knelt there for a few minutes and absorbed, more than I ever have, the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice for me and all of God’s children. It was the single most moving, powerful, memorable moment in my long, winding faith journey.
I hope you will join me on the journey through Holy Week at Calvary this year as we prepare our hearts and minds for the glorious celebration of Easter.