I think it may be the drama and the mystery that attract me to Holy Week, that make Holy Week so special. Like a little child who wants his parents to read his favorite bedtime story again, I do not tire of this story. Maybe it helps that there are four official versions of the story – Matthew’s, Mark’s, Luke’s, and John’s – but even if we had only one version, I think I’d still be drawn in by the drama and the mystery.
I want to enter the story. I want to participate in the drama. I want to behold the mystery. And so, participating in the services of Holy Week is vital to me.
As I write this column, I am looking forward to participating with you in the parade of Palm Sunday. We will gather on the patio (by the social hall) for the beginning of the service. Then we will parade in front of our building to the west doors and right on into the sanctuary. I will be paying attention to my feelings and my thoughts as we parade. I will be using my senses to relearn the drama and glimpse the mystery – feeling my feet against the ground, smelling the mix of our new plantings and the reality of the city, seeing the crowd of us and the people driving by, hearing our cries of “Hosanna in the highest!” mixed with a train whistle. The past and the present will mix and I will be invited to sift through it all.
When we get to the sanctuary, hearing will continue to be important as I listen to the Passion story told in music by the choir. We will hear another telling of the Palm Sunday story, along with the drama of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Back at what we call “the Last Supper,” only Jesus and maybe Judas knew that it would be the last time Jesus broke bread with his disciples before his death. For the rest of them, it was another meal, special because it was at the Passover, but otherwise just another meal. Then Jesus did something and the meal was transformed into a sacrament.
The past and the present will mix again when we gather on Maundy Thursday (April 2) for a potluck dinner, communion, and the ancient service of Tenebrae. We will be joined by folk from Little Brown Church in Sunol, Fil-Am United Church of Christ, Fil-Am Evangelical United Church of Christ, and Fremont Congregational Church for the sharing of food and conversation and worship. Once again, we will have a chance to enter into the story.
We are trying something new this Good Friday (April 3). Pastor Brenda is creating an interactive meditation on the cross. The sanctuary will have tables with a large cross on them. Participants will be invited to reflect on the crucifixion through art. Supplies for drawing, poetry, and other media will be available along with questions to prompt your creativity.
Being a rational bunch, we tend to reflect on the drama and mystery of the crucifixion rationally. Using the arts as a vehicle for reflection will help move us to the right side of our brains. Who knows what you or I may discovery through this technique. The sanctuary will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for drop in meditation, and Pastor Brenda and I will be available for anointing and prayer.
Of course, the crucifixion isn’t the end of the story, and there is nothing more dramatic or mysterious than the resurrection. We will begin our celebration of the resurrection with a sunrise service (6:30 a.m.) in Niles Town Plaza. The celebration will continue at 10:00 in our sanctuary and will keep going through the season of Easter (which lasts for seven Sundays).
I hope you will join me in entering into the drama and beholding the mystery of Holy Week.