We’re about to enter the most sacred week of the church year: Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday tomorrow.
Holy Week is the time we experience the sacred mysteries of the Christian faith: the suffering, passion, and death of Jesus, and of course his glorious resurrection. By participating in the liturgies of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Day, we accompany Christ in his last days and hours.
It’s an ancient ritual, the time of Holy Week, that clashes with our modern sensibilities. We expect to have everything we need delivered to us instantaneously. The internet promises us instant gratification and virtual perfection. All we have to do for enlightenment or pleasure is to click on the next link.
Holy Week invites to slow down and experience life at its core. We encounter the realities of sin and death, and the intervention of God’s resurrection. These are profound truths to ponder together in the safety of community.
On Palm Sunday we accompany Jesus as he enters the holy city of Jerusalem where he will face suffering and death.
On Maundy Thursday we wash each other’s feet, remembering Jesus’ command to love one another. Is there any imperative more important than this?
On Good Friday we act out the passion and death of Jesus, recalling his humility, his willingness to be the victim to end all victimhood. To accompany Jesus on Good Friday is to face our own death, and to acknowledge the salvation Christ won for us.
Easter Day is the day of resurrection, when we rejoice in the power of life given by God in Jesus Christ. The gift of new life on Easter morning is even more precious when we’ve contemplated the reality of death on Good Friday.
This is our week! I hope you’ll participate in these holy mysteries in the coming days and grow ever deeper in your faith in Christ.
Lent is a time for us to renew our prayer life, and I’d like to share some prayers with you during this Lent. Below is one of my favorite prayers by Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk.
I like this prayer because it is so humble and unassuming. It’s a good prayer to begin with, because it simply asks God for consideration.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
Today is the first day of Lent, and I’m starting a new Lenten Art series. Here’s a watercolor of my imagination of Jesus being led by the Spirit into the desert.
The desert is a severe place, a place of testing, but it’s also a place of great beauty. Lent is the great desert of Christian spirituality.
This week the Primates of the Anglican Communion met in Canterbury, England. The Primates are the heads of the Anglican churches that make up the Anglican Communion. Our own Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is one of the primates, and he was there for the meeting, as was Justin Welby, the Archbishop of England.
At their meeting, the Primates issued a communique “requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us… not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and… not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”
So what does this mean?
Not very much, really. The Primates are only one of four bodies in the Anglican Communion, and their harrumphing about the Episcopal Church doesn’t change much. The important work of the Anglican Communion goes on in a network of relationships between parishes, dioceses, schools, and other groups. That won’t change. We’ll continue to pray for and give to the Anglican Church of Jerusalem as we always have.
The Primates are a bunch of grumpy old men, led by the very conservative heads of Anglican Churches in Africa and Asia, who disapprove of the Episcopal Church’s approval of same-sex marriage rites last summer at general Convention.
The world is changing, and people everywhere are accepting that gay and lesbian people are no different from anyone else and deserve the same rights. The African Primates are trying to maintain the repression of LGBT people as long as they can.
Our own Presiding Bishop said in his response to the Primates meeting, “It may be part of our vocation to help the Communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a Communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed.”
The Anglican Communion is a network of relationships, not a court of law, and the Primates’ statement is mostly hot air.
Links for more information:
After our website was hacked, I took it down and rebuilt the entire site. It’s back up now, and everything seems to be working.