This week between Palm Sunday and Easter is going to be unlike any Holy Week most of us have ever experienced.
Normally we would have gathered in large groups yesterday…watched (and perhaps joined with) children parading around the sanctuary, waving palm branches in memory of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
We would be gathering together for Maundy Thursday services, sharing in commemoration of that last supper.
Many of us would be sharing in a Tenebrae service on Friday night as we go into the darkness.
And then we would be gathering in more large groups, celebrating the Resurrection with family and friends…enjoying Easter egg hunts and dinners with family…
But not this year.
This year most of us are staying home…unless there is an urgent need to go out for groceries or medications.
We are not getting to see each other face-to-face. Some of us have been able to share in services via Zoom or other media platforms, and while that’s provided some wonderful opportunities, it’s not quite the same.
But maybe this week is allowing us to experience more truly what that first Holy Week was. There weren’t large crowds at the events. People were worried, uncertain of what the future was going to hold.
Some of you may have seen this post by Rev. Allison Lanza on Facebook. But if you haven’t, I think it’s an important read…something to ponder as we go through this Holy Week.
The very first Easter was not in a crowded worship space with singing and praising. On the very first Easter the disciples were locked in their house. It was dangerous for them to come out. They were afraid. They wanted to believe the good news they heard from the women, that Jesus had risen. But it seemed too good to be true. They were living in a time of such despair and such fear. If they left their homes their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk. Could a miracle really have happened? Could life really had won out over death? Could this time of terror and fear really be coming to an end?
Alone in their homes they dared to believe that hope was possible, that the long night was over and morning had broken, that God’s love was the most powerful of all, even though it didn’t seem quite real yet. Eventually, they were able to leave their homes, when the fear and danger had subsided, they went around celebrating and spreading the good news that Jesus was risen and love was the most powerful force on the earth.
This year, we might get to experience a taste of what that first Easter was like, still in our homes daring to believe that hope is on the horizon. Then, after a while, when it is safe for all people, when it is the most loving choice, we will come out, gathering together, singing and shouting the good news that God brings life even out of death, that love always has the final say.
This year we might get the closest taste we have had yet to what that first Easter was like.