This has been a week of extremes.
The week started with Palm Sunday; the remembrance of the moment Jesus rode into Jerusalem amongst his adoring disciples and followers. We celebrate with a loud, Hosanna filled worship service, complete with palm branches and praise music. (The kids loved it – though it took constant monitoring to be sure palm branches were not used to hit other people!)
But at the Maundy Thursday service, we experience a more intimate and solemn gathering as we remember the Last Supper, the night Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with his disciples. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and instituted the words which we use for Holy Communion even today. While Palm Sunday was filled with joy, this night’s service is holy yet filled with anxiousness – as if we can sense the gloom that lurks around the corner.
Early in the week we went to a Christian music concert. We were joined in a large arena with thousands of people, all joined together to sing, worship and praise.
Then this morning, Easter morning, we attended a small, intimate Sunrise service outside at our church. There were maybe 50 people. No massive speakers, lighting effects or video screens here.
Good Friday service is solemn, sad – the aura of a funeral. We leave the dark, empty, silent church on Friday night with heavy, grievous hearts and mixed emotions. There is deep pain for the sacrifice made by Jesus for my undeserving self – yet joy in the thought that I could be loved SO much!
Contrast this darkness to the bright, joyous, loud fellowship we experience on Easter morning; white banners, brass bands and laughter. Joy and promise in the reality that with Jesus we have hope in the midst of despair!
From loud praises and large crowds to small crowds, intimate and relational moments of reflection and even sorrow – the full range of emotions and experience all in one short week.
Amongst all of these highs and lows, one thing remains constant: our God – our loving, sacrificial and merciful God – is present. Much like our human experience, God is there in the joy and praise, weeping with us in the darkness and sorrow, present when we gather with many to offer shouts of praise and present when only two or three gather in quiet stillness.
I think the experience of extreme is what makes Holy Week so powerful. And after it is all done, we are left with one truth – the foundation of our Christian faith: An empty tomb, a risen Lord, a personal saviour, a constant source of love and strength; Abba, Father, counseling Spirit, Christ the King! Alleluia!!
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:5-6
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16