I'm always looking for some new way to pitch it-some new way to invite us into the drama that is Holy Week. And as I search for that pitch I end up feeling more like a character on "Mad Men" than I would like (although I do like those characters). I don't want to "sell" us on Holy Week-I just want us to want it. That's a tough sell.
Palm Sunday; Maundy Thursday; Good Friday-and of course Easter itself. It's a lot of church. And it's not all easy church-not at all. (Of course having just said that, I wonder if church should ever be described as "easy.") Years ago I came to see these unique services as one Story, read in chapters, each one building on the other. They more of the story we experience, the more the story will come to life within us.
So, here's what we know . . .
On Palm Sunday we will once again challenge the weather and parade outside. Bring your branches, wave them around, get your children excited. Tell them it's a parade. It is. Until the earth shifts and we are again reminded that we stand on Holy, shaking ground.
On Maundy Thursday there is tenderness and quiet and a lovely meal in the sanctuary. And there will be poetry, and song. Mostly, in the face of hardship and misunderstanding; in the face of betrayal and grief, the Story this night asks us to live with compassion. Nothing less. Nothing more. So being there, on Thursday night, teaches, molds and shapes us. And, it's worth saying again, this is a rich service for families and kids.
Watching and waiting. All Thursday night, and into Friday morning. Candles lit. The church is open. Come and sit. Watch. Wait and see.
Good Friday. A tough day. Finding the "good" is a soulful, necessary challenge. This is a day when the Story of our faith seems trapped by the inevitable, and we once again feel confronted by the Good dying young. Maybe the point today is to be reminded that this is not what we want. And this year there are three ways to be reminded-services at Noon and 7pm, and then a very unique Good Friday service for families and children at 4. We will walk with Jesus at that service, literally walking around GraceLand connecting with his Story on that fateful Friday.
And then, we practice Resurrection-3 times on Easter morning! Sunrise-with milk and honey and song. And again at 9 and 11-twin services. After the long Story of Holy Week I know that I'm "dying" for resurrection. Or living for it. By Easter Sunday I want to see and feel the season change-and my own life change, too. And it happens. Stones roll away. We open up.
So there you go. And here we are. Reminders about service times and places are easy to find on the Grace website. (Haven't been there lately? Enjoy!) This is your invitation to a deeper week. A week of story and community and shared experience. It's what we say we want. I believe it's what we need.