Bittersweet Holy Week?

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Bittersweet Holy Week?


As we find ourselves on the doorstep of Holy Week, I need to admit that for a long time Palm Sunday has made me feel uncomfortable and uneasy.  I think it is because I know how the end of the week turns out.  I know what is coming on Good Friday and to spend Palm Sunday reenacting a celebration and a parade as Jesus entered into the city feels really uncomfortable to me.  I am fully aware that in Jesus’ day he was probably the only one who knew what was coming and it is great that the people saw a reason to celebrate as he came into the city, but I always struggled with it.

If we jump forward into our current world I am wondering how many of us are finding ourselves in an uncomfortable  and uneasy situation as we look at Holy Week.  For many people Easter has traditionally meant a gathering of family and loved ones, it is a time when many dress a little special, attend worship together, participating in the pageantry of Easter Sunday, and then enjoy a larger than normal meal with those who are special in our lives.  It is a time of celebration, hope, and inspiration as to how the Risen Christ might be stirring in our lives today.

Much of that is going to be different this year.  Many of us are not going to be able to gather all of our loved ones in one place.  We won’t be attending large worship events in person, our meals may very well be different and I am not sure how much Easter finery will come out of the closet.  It may very well feel a little strange to be honoring and celebrating Palm Sunday this week when we know how the end of the week is going to probably turn out for us.

I think it might be helpful to remember that as Jesus rode in on the donkey his followers had no idea what was coming.  Not only did they not see Good Friday coming, they certainly could not even comprehend Easter morning.  In that same manner I don’t believe we have any idea of what might be at the end of this pandemic.  Our time frame might be very different than a neat and tidy week, but there will be a time when this is behind us.  And when it is behind us, only God knows what the possibilities might be.  As we enter into Holy week, we honestly do not know what is at the other end of this pandemic, but as we begin this time with Palm Sunday I invite you to dream, and dream big as to what God might have in store for us at the other end.

~ Rev. Nathan Athorp