It’s Holy Week; more specifically, it’s Wednesday of Holy Week (also known as Spy Wednesday or Holy Wednesday). Over the past several weeks I’ve been reading through the book Deeply Loved by Kerry Wyatt Kent as part of a Lent devotional, and today I want to take a few minutes to reflect on the importance of Holy Week.
Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday), which is the Sunday before Easter, and continues through until Easter morning. In traditional and liturgical circles there are generally a bunch of services this week and, for the first time in a decade I won’t get to participate in all of them (for the record, I have class on Thursday night and so I won’t be attending the Maundy Thursday service and on Good Friday we’ll be traveling so I’ll visit a church for their evening service).
As an arts person with a background in both music and theatre part of me just loves the drama and pageantry of Holy Week – from celebrating the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday (complete with waving of palms and processing into the sanctuary) to experiencing communion (the night of the Last Supper) and leaving a darkened and stripped sanctuary on Thursday to the quiet reflection of Good Friday to the sunrise service on Easter morning, there’s just something about going through the process that helps remind me of what Jesus did, particularly that last week of his life on Earth.
Perhaps more than anything, though, I’m reminded of the awesome grace of God that is demonstrated this week. I’m reminded that regardless of how many times I fail – whether I say things I shouldn’t at work or fail to do my daily quiet time or whatever – regardless of what I do or don’t do God has paid the price for my sin and I’m clean before him through Jesus. For me, Holy Week is the reminder of grace – free grace; it’s a reminder that there is nothing – nothing – I can do to earn God’s love or favor. He did it all. He rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to the praises of people who would later betray him; he washed the feet of the disciples who would just hours later abandon him; he suffered the betrayal of one of his closest friends who turned him over to the authorities; he suffered through an unjust and illegal trial, endured flogging at the hands of Pontius Pilate and the Roman soldiers, was literally nailed to a cross, and then he died. All for me (and you, too!). There’s nothing I can do to earn that type of love or deserve that type of love – God gave freely to me. The drama and pageantry of Holy Week reminds me of that grace.
And after all that, Easter is when everything changes. Jesus “done got up” from the grave – “he is not here”, but he is risen! Grace wins! Not only does God punish Jesus for my sins and failings (instead of punishing me), he provides a rescue by defeating death and granting me victory over death through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Grace, grace, God’s grace” is truly “amazing grace”.
What’s Holy Week mean to me? It means that “because of Jesus I’m alive”; it reminds me of grace. Deeply Loved has proven a wonderful tool over the past several weeks to remind me of that love as I’ve encountered and practiced different ways to interact with and experience the presence of Jesus in my life. I’m not perfect (at least not yet – but just wait until I get to Heaven!); I mess up every day. But I know that because of Holy Week – because of grace – God forgives, accepts, loves, and is working to change me into the image of his son.