I was not all that into Holy Week growing up. Sure, I like the processional and waving of the palms on Palm Sunday, but Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) and Good Friday were just stops along the way until Easter.
Even Easter morning took a back seat to Christmas Day. Now I get what Holy Thursday and Good Friday mean for me personally, for Christians and for all creation. You can’t have Easter without Good Friday. You can’t have Good Friday without the betrayal of the night before and the Last Supper. You can’t have resurrection unless there is death!
Holy Week is about life. It starts on Palm Sunday and runs through until Easter. It reminds me of beginnings and endings, good friends and back stabbers, hopeless situations and surprise endings. It reminds me how much Jesus loves me, and that I should never forget that reality.
After communion on Holy Thursday, we strip the altar of all those things that remind us of worship and the lights are dimmed. It is then that I feel the beginning of something very powerful. It feels like just before a thunderstorm. You hear the rumble of thunder, the flashes of lighting and the rush of the wind as the storm is about to hit.
The violent storm of Good Friday hits me. The words: “Crucify Him” thunder on my senses – come from the same voices that only days before had shouted out Hosanna. Now hate and fear have taken over those voices calling out for the worst of the worst of humanity to be released. Instead, they want Jesus - an innocent man, the Messiah - to die in his place. All this according to God’s plan.
When Good Friday service is done, the emptiness is palatable. After the evening service, I go home and wonder how much love it took for Jesus to stay there on the cross to die for me. Sometimes my birthday would land on Good Friday and we would celebrate it after Easter. On Good Friday, life was given away for life, my life and the life of all humanity past, present and future. One does not sing Happy Birthday, open presents or eat cake on the day Jesus died.
Saturday is the day between. Saturday is the day we wait. It is the day of anticipation. We know what is going to happen. We know there is more. For me, Saturday wasn’t the day we hid Easter eggs but the day we prepared. It is a time to remember those who have gone to heaven, to color Easter eggs as symbols of something greater and practice songs to be sung the next morning in celebration.
Holy Week and Easter, for me, are more profound. It is more emotional and more spiritual than ever before. Maybe it is my age; maybe it is being a pastor. Maybe, just maybe, the truth of God’s love for me, comes like a spring storm, afterwards the sun shines, the darkness is gone and the promise of life after death is remembered.