A Special Message for Holy Week
March 31, 2020
One of the most dependable parts of my job as a pastor in a local congregation is the way the church year rolls around from Advent to Christmas to Epiphany, from Ash Wednesday into Lent, and on to Holy Week. I’ve walked with congregations from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to Easter Sunday every year like clockwork for 20 years now. I’ve told this same story of Jesus’s last days in Jerusalem over and over again, employing all the usual props of our Holy Week worship services, all the palms and candles and crosses and lilies (and eggs), things that aren’t the story but help to shape our experience of it.
Not this year. This year will be different, for obvious reasons. For one, we won’t even be in the same room together, for good reasons. We won’t be able to share all these usual props and pomp that help us “get into the spirit” and even into the Spirit during these highest of high holy days. And it’s okay for us to grieve their absence and our physical distance from one another at this special time in our life together.
But they are not the story. The story is this: That God so loved the world that God came to us in Jesus and shared our common life in order to show us a better way to live; that Jesus’ insistence on love, justice, and peace for everyone so frightened people more like us than we’d care to admit and so infuriated the powers and principalities of that day that they prepared a cross for him; that, unwilling to bow even to violence, Jesus went to that cross willingly, trusting that by his doing so, God’s love would have the last word; and that, indeed, Jesus was right. Love is stronger than sin and evil, fear and hatred, stronger even than death.
We are a people shaped, not by specific little liturgical bits and pieces, palms and flowers, but by this story. And despite all the changes and challenges swirling around our lives this year, the very real griefs and fears, we’re going to tell this story again this year. We’re going to tell the story and trust the story, and trust the God who comes to us not just at the holidays, but every day, making every week a holy week, the God who offers abundant life, even in the face of death—the God who Easters us a way when there is no way.
All of our Holy Week worship services will be offered live online on the Zoom platform. You can participate via desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, or landline. The link is the same we’ve been using for worship these past several weeks: https://zoom.us/j/907548568. If this is your first time using Zoom, you will be asked to download the Zoom app first. If you have a video camera built into your device, you will have the opportunity to use that, but you don't have to. You can also join on your landline telephone. using the call-in number: Tel (877) 853-5247. You then will be asked to enter this Meeting ID number: 907 548 568. All this information is also available on the home page of our website at www.NeedhamUCC.org.
I look forward to sharing this deep and meaningful season with you, even in this new way. Especially in this new way. It’s in moments like this that we rediscover that the peace upon which our faith is built is no cheap or easy peace but a deep strong and abiding peace that has been to the cross and beyond for sake of love. That is something worth remembering, and celebrating.
Rev. John MacIver Gage
#Faith in a Time of #Coronavirus