Nobody picks up a novel and reads the first chapter then the fourth and then the final. Or if they do, they certainly will not take away everything that the author wanted the reader to know about in that story. In order to truly understand the novel, you need to read all the different chapters in the novel.
And yet many people treat Holy Week in this way. They come to Palm Sunday and Easter but never make it to Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. Other families perhaps pick one or the other of the evening services deciding that it would be too hard to make both services work into their schedules. I understand that sometimes there are legitimate reasons why one cannot devote themselves to be all of the services. But I also suppose in many cases it’s not such reasons that really keep us away.
I want to use this newsletter article as a chance to challenge you this year to make the four prime Services of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter) an absolute priority. First, I do this because throughout the week a story is being told, the greatest story ever told. One service really does lead into another and missing services can leave a giant hole in the story being retold. If you’re here for Palm Sunday and then Easter Sunday. Jesus is lauded as he enters Jerusalem and then next thing you know He is rising, having never died. It just doesn’t make sense. Of course, you can and do fill in the details with the knowledge you have. However, the impact of this special week of meditation on Jesus has its greatest impact when you get to sit in the pew and spend time meditating upon all of the events of that week. The whole story comes together beautifully and powerfully.
Secondly, I would urge you to do this because each service has a unique gift to offer. Of course at the heart of all the services is ultimately Jesus. However, each service reminds us of a part of that gift. There are things is each service not offered in the others. To miss one service is to miss out on something that God wants you to have.
Finally, I urge you to do this because in our society we often end up devoting a little attention to many things. It is our lifestyle. Focusing on one thing for an extended period of time is not something we do very well. And yet God calls us to such focus in the matters of faith. It is an important spiritual discipline for us to have.
I would challenge you at least for this one week to pay great attention to this one thing. Oh, I understand you’ll still have to go to work, you’ll still have to put food on the table, and you’ll still have to deal with all of the dynamics of family and friends. But I urge you to make this week, this Holy Week, intentionally focused on the final week of Jesus’ life. I urge this not because you have to because you need to and because it is good for you. There is nothing that can bring more comfort, peace, and joy into your life than meditation upon the greatest act of love the world has ever know, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you. See you there.