If you’re anything like me, when you were growing up, you were completely oblivious to terms like Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. You certainly had no idea that any of those led up to the big holiday in the springtime called Easter… or why!
My friend, now that I DO know, I anticipate this season each year with even more depth than the years before. Since 1987, we’ve only missed “Holy Week” once — when I was a brand-new nursing mother.
(We did make Palm Sunday, though, as that is the day our baby boy was baptized – with 11 of his 12 godmothers in attendance!)
Lent is not the stuff you find clinging to a mesh screen on the tumble dryer. Lent is the six-week season on the church calendar that leads up to Easter.
It is six weeks of repentance and self-examination; of penitence and prayer. Not a life sentence, though possibly Life-Changing!
We gather for a light meal with our congregation before the mid-week services, to hear again, the beautiful story of our Savior – and why we so desperately need Him.
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. It’s at the beginning of what we call in our church, Holy Week. We remember the lowly pomp of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey. We recall the waving of palm branches, and the cloaks strewn on the road, and we sing Hosanna to our King.
Maundy Thursday we remember the night Jesus was betrayed. Jesus’ last supper with His disciples. Heart-wrenching prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Drops of sweat like blood. Perfect obedience to His Father’s will.
I really love this, in the Book of John where the great I Am is talking to the crowd who came out to arrest Jesus:
So Judas took the company of soldiers and some guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
“Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus told them.
Judas, the betrayer, was standing with them. When Jesus told them, “I am he,” they backed away and fell to the ground.
The Really Awe-full awful Part
A whole crowd, armed with swords and clubs, was sent out to arrest Him!
Jesus was disowned, abandoned, blindfolded, beaten, and mocked. He endured an illegal trial in the middle of the night. They hit Him with their fists and pulled out His beard. They spit on Him and struck His head with a staff.
Guards twisted a crown of thorns and pressed it onto His head. They dressed Him in a purple robe and mocked Him: “Hail, king of the Jews!”
Good Friday is the day of the crucifixion. Nails pierced His hands and feet, but they are not what held Jesus on that cross. His love for me, and for you, is what held Him there. Jesus’ death paid for my sins, for your sins, for the sins of the whole world.
The hush is heavy when people leave the sanctuary in silence.
When it was the sixth hour, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished!” Then, bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb that he had cut in the rock. He rolled a large stone over the tomb’s entrance and left. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there sitting opposite the tomb.
I apologize for the heavy use of quotes. It’s just really hard to say it better myself.
It would be pointless and even tragic if this were the end of the story. Good thing it’s not the end!
(Spoiler alert!) That stone they rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb… it was rolled away on the 3rd day … and not to let Jesus OUT, but to let the disciples IN!
Until Easter Sunday, then, my friend!
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) © 2019 Wartburg Project, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.