I sit here thinking about how things aren’t going right. Plans I’ve made, how I’m feeling — stuff isn’t how I want it to be. Ironically, even plans I’ve made as a pastor for Holy Week aren’t how I had hoped. I get wrapped up in all of that and then I have to return to the central truth of Holy Week: it happened because we human beings have broken the world. That things aren’t how they are supposed to be is precisely the point.
As I write this, the church plant I’ve been working with a team on launching isn’t meeting in person yet. Initially slated to launch just after Easter 2020, the pandemic delayed it, problems keeping the space we rented delayed it and, most recently, a significant leak in our roof (and subsequent repairs) gave us one, last delay that pushed the launch from this week. We’ll launch the week after Easter. That’s not a bad time at all, yet I find myself annoyed we missed Holy Week.
Meanwhile, seasonal allergies are hitting me hard this week, as they often do in April, and I likewise find myself annoyed. I need to be focused and feeling great as I prepare for the online ministry my church will be doing for Holy Week.
All of this has been swirling around in my head as I contemplated what to write for Holy Week. I need to write a Holy Week appropriate column, but I’m fretting over all of these things.
One of the core team members for the church plant, knowing the delays were getting me down, shared a wonderful little devotional with me earlier in the week, reminding me that the true point of the church is to get people to their ultimate home in God’s presence, not having a nice building in the meantime. Quite true; while we try to have nice arrangements so we can gather and worship God in a way that honors Him, ultimately it isn’t about the building or anything else material, but about our God and His love.
And that then started to convict me about my various woes concerning this particular Holy Week more generally. Should it surprise me that I live in a world where things are broken — buildings leak and pollen throws me for a loop? If I really take in what Holy Week is about, in fact, I should expect problems: after all, Holy Week isn’t some neat, tidy box of celebrations. Holy Week is a week to remember the Bible telling us about the very untidy way the God of the universe took on the sin of the world while everyone that should have appreciated Him instead mocked, condemned and betrayed Him.
If everything went smoothly all the time, I might have reason to question the Biblical story about a broken, fallen world. Instead, the fact that everything, even attempts to observe Holy Week, are riddled with troubles remind us of exactly the problems of this world that we inhabit and how much we need the One who faced off against sin on the Cross.
Suffering is part of a broken world. Restoration from it is part of the hope of God give us when Jesus says in Rev. 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new.” In the meantime, those unpleasantries continue, but a Holy Week perspective helps to remind me of how trivial they often are. The largely minor woes I rattled off are nothing compared to the destruction our sin has wrought on this world and the desolation that Jesus endured for the sake of offering us salvation from our own deadly choices. Allergies? A building that isn’t quite ready the way I’d like? These are nothing compared to the Cross and yet, even those relatively minor things shall ultimately pass under the restoring grace that Jesus gives us because of the Cross.
Holy Week is about that which is already done, though not entirely yet entirely experienced.