Each year, the spiritual journey through Holy Week provides an opportunity to reflect on one’s experiences on the spiritual path with Jesus. The disciples of Jesus had a breath-taking experience as they traveled with Jesus from Palm Sunday to Easter. As for the disciples and for us, the events of Holy Week generate a variety of feelings that hopefully inspire us and draw us closer to Jesus.
During the course of this 2017 Lenten season, I have been anticipating the events of Holy Week that lead us to Easter, the Day of Resurrection. Last Saturday, I attended a 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Among the multiple joys for the honored couple was the guest appearance of a bagpipe band. The music was majestic, festive, and it reminded me of what it is like to experience a parade (I like parades.).
The next day was Palm Sunday, when we relived the parade that Jesus participated in when he rode a donkey into the city. At the beginning of our Sunday worship service, we received palm branches. We waved the palm branches as we sang “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” This was a stark reminder of how the crowd greeted Jesus with palm branches. The parade atmosphere, however, did not last, because a few days later the crowd that welcomed Jesus had turned against him.
This cloud of fear, doubt and anger, culminates on Maundy Thursday. I am reminded always that Jesus invited all of his disciples to break bread with him on Maundy Thursday. No one was excluded – not Judas the betrayer; not Peter the denier; not any of the disciples, all of whom deserted Jesus. At the supper, Jesus took a towel, girded himself, and washed the disciples’ feet. He stood among them as one who serves. He loved each one of them dearly.
In this Holy Week season, I am reminded of another man who took a towel. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot on Thursday, April 4, 1968. He was a prophet in his own time, and he chose to love and to serve the people of this nation. The towel, however, could not stem the flow of blood from his mortal wound. But the towel remains a symbol of his servanthood. In the year 1968, King died on a Thursday evening, one week before Maundy Thursday. As the nation mourned Dr. King’s death, Christians entered into Holy Week. Are we willing to take a towel?
On Good Friday, I always give thanks for Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died on a cross. On the cross, he forgave his adversaries. He died for our sins. I also think about Martin Luther King, Jr. a follower of Jesus who gave his life for justice and freedom.
We meet Jesus at the cross. This meeting can transform our lives when we accept his forgiveness and his grace. I am still learning about the meaning of the cross of Jesus. I pray that Jesus will keep me near the cross.
Good Friday, yes, but Sunday is coming. On the third day, an on-time God raised Jesus from death to life. God displayed God’s resurrection power on Easter day.
Wars and rumors of war are constantly displayed in every news cycle. Let us not be afraid. Let us remember that we are “Easter people.”