I’ve been singing in an Episcopal Church choir since my youth, and I’m not sure I remember a time that I haven’t been involved in Holy Week services. Holy Week has always been a very special week to me, and Easter would not be the same without it. I can’t imagine resurrection without the rest of the story, and Holy Week provides me with some answers.
My favorite service of the year is Maundy Thursday. After the welcome that Jesus received as he walked into Jerusalem, as remembered on Palm Sunday, we are sent to a small room. Friends are sharing a meal together, and Jesus shows them, again and again, a different way—a humble, loving, life-altering way. But this time, Jesus will no longer be with them to show them the path. The stripping of the altar has always been an emotional experience for me. The lights fade, and the sanctuary is left bare. I can’t help but be reminded of this song: “Jesus walked this lonesome valley; he had to walk it by himself; oh, nobody else, could walk it for him; he had to walk it by himself.”
But I choose to believe that we are walking with Jesus through this story. The story continues with Good Friday and the crucifixion. Darkness has come, and we feel it, too. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord; were you there when they crucified my Lord; sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble; were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
We wait with Mary and the disciples, and God is with us. We know that light comes out of darkness, and we are assured by the hope of resurrection. “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.” Those beginning lines from a poem by Emily Dickinson give me great comfort as I can always see a glimmer of light in darkness. Hope doesn’t stop.
We see that hope in the light of the Easter Vigil service. Things are not the same. Things are ever changing from the beginning and forever. Christ has risen! The Lord is risen indeed! The church lights are up, bells are ringing, and we are not alone. Love has come again!
I invite you to join me in this story during Holy Week as we walk together with Jesus.