Why do we do this? Five Tips for a Meaningful Holy Week
The case might be made that the ritual practice of Holy Week is an unnecessary add-on to the calendar which is already packed with many pressing items, but for a lot of us, myself included, this is the annual highpoint for the Church. Growing up, everything led to the celebration of Easter. Palm Sunday was the week before warmup. It was like God would place us each in a rubber band held by His hand. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday felt like the rubber band was being stretched back so tight it might break. Easter Sunday was the day the band was released and God's people soared as though projected right out of the empty tomb. Aaaaaaaalleluia!!!!
Perhaps many are not aware that the scheduling of this particular holiday is based on the moon. In other words, this is a cosmic event. God literally moves heaven and earth for His people. When God was creating the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day, He already had in mind the new creation that would come about as a result of Jesus' work during this week in history. Easter is the Sunday after the first full moon. What does this mean? It means that the sunrise is only part of the story. The timing of the full moon means that every Easter God shines a bright light into the darkness. The light of the moon we know is only a reflection of the light from the sun. The rising of the Son of God on Easter is best remembered in this world when the people of God shine this Good News brightly into the darkness.
If you have felt discouraged, disconnected, almost like you are just going through motions and things are coming and going without fanfare and proper attention, I want you to stop right now and consider these five tips to Holy Week.
Tip #1 - Remember
What's it all about? Holy Week helps us to connect with the first Holy Week. It puts things back into perspective. It reminds us of everything that God has already done and what He is still doing. It is when God who was, who is, and who is to come meets us. Holy week is that time when the past, present, and future come into conjunction like planets in the night sky. Suddenly what happened then becomes more visible and begins to makes sense. In the present, the past changes my future. Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever rode into Jerusalem, and today is my King who saves me. He sat with His disciples in the upper room, and today I receive Him in communion as a foretaste of things to come. He was scourged and fastened to a cross 2000 years ago, and today nothing but the blood of Jesus makes me whole again and fills me with hope. He has risen, and today I know I have an eternal future. When you remember, don't forget "today" 2 Corinthians 6:2.
Tip #2 - Prioritize
What's at stake? Let's be super clear, the WORLD knows Easter is happening. Keep the first things first. No pressure, but your faith walk, your entire family's faith walk, and the witness to your friends, coworkers, and associates hangs in the balance. Something will always be clamoring for your attention. The temptation to relegate Easter to a secular occasion or a non-event is real. This is not just a logistical issue, or a question of which came first the bunny or the egg, it is spiritual warfare. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, "but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." It is a season for God's people to reflect Christ and to shine brightly in "the darkness of this age" Ephesians 6:12
It is a season for God's people to reflect Christ and to shine brightly in "the darkness of this age" Ephesians 6:12
Tip #3 - Pray
Give yourself to God. Jesus went to Gethsemane during this week. He prayed that God's will be done even if He had to drink the cup of the cross. Jesus addressed His disciples three times "Watch and pray... the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" Matthew 26:41. They repeatedly fell asleep. They couldn't even keep watch one hour. It is no wonder we are overwhelmed or carried away if we are not constantly conversing with our God who saves us. The prayer of the people when Jesus entered Jerusalem should be constantly on our lips and in our minds, "Hosanna" which means- Save us! Psalm 69:1
Save us God from ourselves and our weaknesses. Keep us mindful of the sacrifice You made for us and enable us to keep watch with You and for You. Continually adjust my mind and heart to be where You want me rather than where I am naturally drawn. You fixed Your eyes on us, to save us, help us fix our eyes on You and be saved. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Tip #4 - Plan
Be intentional. The plan you make for how you spend your week will serve as your guide. If you're serious about Holy Week, review your calendar and commend it to God. Do you truly feel that this is an edifying plan? Do you believe that God is being honored through your schedule? Where are your priorities? What can you anticipate resulting from the calendar that you are dedicating to God? God's plan for you was very intentional. This is essentially what we discover during Holy Week, God's attention to detail and His anticipated outcome. Proverbs 16:2-3.
Tip #5 - Repeat
Wash, rinse, repeat. One thing you can be sure of is that these tips require repetition. This is not a one and done week. Watch and pray. Be on your guard. Stay awake. Be vigilant. "Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it" Genesis 4:7. "Continue in the faith, stable and steadfast" Colossians 1:21-23
Ritual observance is not mandatory. However, we are aware of no other means of salvation than by Jesus' work on the cross and through the grave. This Holy Week, this Holy Work is 100% necessary for my forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation from sin, death, and the Devil. What Jesus did is ESSENTIAL! What we need to receive from what He did CRITICAL! And as we gather on Easter...JOYFUL!!!
Holy Week is more than just a seasonal observance, a work holiday, or spring break. It is a time when the Church, regardless of denomination, joins together in making a bold and bright statement to the world. May God let your "Alleluias!!!" soar. HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED! HALLELUJAH!!!