You may be reading this in the middle of Lent, but this is an Easter message. Soon our solemn Lenten preparation will come to an eventful climax. April 14th is Palm Sunday and we’ll usher in that roller coaster week that leads us through the elation of the King’s advent to the confrontation when He cleanses His temple to the heaviness of His Last Supper to the shock of His arrest in the Garden to the humiliation of His public exposure to the horror of His tortured death by crucifixion to the respectfulness of His dignified burial.
But we haven’t seen it all until we’ve seen Him risen from the grave early on Sunday morning. That’s what we spend these forty days of Lent getting ready for. The major Church festival days have their seasons of preparation. That’s why we have Advent and Lent. But Holy Week is unmatched. It’s the grand climax to the whole salvation story.
Many years ago a Rev. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge (cool name!) from San Diego, California spoke a sermon – almost in a chanting tone – with a refrain that said, “It’s Friday…but Sunday’s comin’.” That Good Friday to Easter Sunday change is the hinge on which the whole promise of God opens for mankind. You can find it on Youtube if you’d like to experience it. You may remember that the Christian wing of the Civil Rights movement adopted that phrase as their statement of hope for change in America.
Closer to home, I’m hoping you’re going to want to experience Holy Week by being present in God’s house for worship. Yes, every Sunday of the year is a complete worship experience, but I can’t imagine leaving out the exhilaration of walking together as a community of Jesus’ disciples during this special week.
Palm Sunday will be festive, with the opening procession and the palm waving and the Hosannas. Maundy Thursday will start festive, with our annual spaghetti dinner, then turn contemplative with the communion service of the Lord’s Supper. It will end starkly, with the altar and chancel being stripped of its adornments and furnishings. Good Friday – well, it’s not a funeral, but it sure is solemn. It’s a service without beginning or end, without hello or goodbye, a time to ponder the mystery of God physically giving Himself and dying for you in order to satisfy His own perfect justice.
Once upon a time in Lockport many of the businesses closed at mid-day on Good Friday. At other places workers were excused to attend worship. We know that our secular culture doesn’t support that anymore, but please do what you can to enrich our Easter fellowship by walking with us in preparation for the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. As we’ll shout on April 21st:
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!