Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It wasn't the way it was

photo from

Holy week is my favorite week. To quote someone who loves me, I'm a Christian nerd. I love the church calendar. I love the Bible stories. I love the hymns. Anything good the church has done I celebrate. Anything bad, I grieve deeply.

This year didn't really feel like Easter to me. In our family, Easter has never been about the bunny or eggs or even cute little baby lambs. Easter has always been a time of somberness that led to great rejoicing. Easter has never been just one day, or event. It was a whole thing. It begins with Lent. That begins forty days (not counting Sunday) before Easter morning. It's a time of fasting, which means to abstain from something. In the Christian world, you use the time to reflect on the need we have for God in our lives. A lot of people have a lot of different things they fast from. I didn't do any of that this year. To be honest, I didn't really feel like it. Our new place of worship didn't put a lot of emphasis on it and I just didn't want to be a harpy or martyr to my family about it again.

After the forty days of nothing special, my family gets to Palm Sunday. In the past, this was about big palm branches, kids waving them around and shouting hosanna. Or at least the teachers are shouting while the kids kind of mumble in an embarrassed fashion. This year, there was no marking of the triumphal entry in a physical way in the adult or teen worship centers. My youngest had a strip of green streamer, and a picture of Jesus on a donkey. That was the extent of Palm Sunday remembrance.

As I said, Holy Week is my favorite time of the Church calendar. There's so much ritual and beauty crammed into one week. We have the beginning with Palm Sunday. Four days later is Maundy Thursday which is remembering the Last Supper, from which comes communion. Good Friday marks a dark day remembering Jesus's death on the cross. Saturday we reflect more on that loss and gift. Then comes Sunday! It's a big party celebrating and rejoicing of the empty tomb! The joy and hope is so powerful on that day because of the three days reflecting on the necessary but awful sacrifice of Jesus. 

This year I had none of the ritual. I've always been able to depend on the church for that in the past. This year, I didn't have those moments to celebrate or remember corporately. I reflected on them, but didn't have the physical manifestations marking the passage of the week. Holy week just wasn't what it has been for me. Even my family was a little disoriented. We went to Easter service on Friday night to leave space for the influx of visitors over the weekend. My boys were confused about the celebratory nature of the service instead of the somberness they had grown accustomed to.

As I explained to my older two, as New Testament believers, yes, we are under the mantle of victory Jesus offers. I live each day with the power of the Holy Spirit in me that resurrects. The power of that is never diminished no matter what rituals are in place at church.

But for me, this Easter season was just a little off. It was a little to easy to focus on the bunnies and eggs rather than the sacrifice and suffering. That's probably more about my heart than it is about anything else. So now I know. our family will need to be more intentional in our home of practicing the rituals that remind us of Jesus during Holy week. But even if next year rolls around and we fall into the same pattern of not being intentional that doesn't make Jesus's gift for us any less.

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