My calendar in the Minister’s Study at the church tells me that this is “Holy Week.” The ‘holiest’ week of the Christian Year, as it keeps time with the last week of the human, earthly life of the Rabbi from Nazareth, Jesus, son of Mary. With great fanfare, jubilation and participation we Cedar Parkers ushered in this Holy Week with our Palm procession around the church, and together, “all ages” participated in worship – with 23 individuals (not counting the 28 or so in the choir!) helping to lead in worship! It was glorious mayhem, and truly a ‘work of the people’ fit to worship God!
But we didn’t stay jubilant for long; we “walked through Holy Week”, marking the passing time of each day, using the Gospel of Mark as our guide. We watched and listened as Jesus taught about the Dream of God on Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday. We helped to prepare his Passover meal in the upper room, setting out haroset, bitter herbs, lamb, an egg, parsley and salt water, unleavened bread, and wine. We went with Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane to pray on Thursday evening, we watched Jesus get arrested for talking about God’s Dream, and be dragged off to the Temple prison, and then to be handed over to Pilate to be executed. The choir sent shivers down our spines with their striking, poignant – yet- hopeful anthem “Christus Paradox.” And we left the sanctuary in quietness, moved.
What moved us? Participation of our full community in an act of worship? Yes. Great singing, and helpful visual aids to the service? Yes. The story itself, told with lots of action, and taste, and touch, and smell? Yes. I also believe we were moved by how like real life this ancient, middle eastern, almost mythical story is when you get close to it. Moved because in that cross we saw our own crosses. Moved because we too know the taste of tears, the sting of hurtful words, the sense of powerlessness in the face of injustice, the easiness with which some life is extinguished. And I know for me, I was moved, because in the company of the community I serve, I know I felt God close by. That’s the only way such a horrible week – the metronomic inevitability of a politically expedient execution – could possibly become ‘holy’. When God and humanity, for a few heartbeats, recognize one another in the face of suffering love.