One of the lesser noted aspects of Holy Week is its real-time observance of the Passion. Each year, we move from the procession into Jerusalem to the Resurrection at the very same pace the disciples experienced them. While Advent reduces the events leading to Christ’s birth to six weeks and Pentecost is a one-off celebration that glosses over the 10-day waiting period between the Ascension and the Holy Spirit’s arrival, every tick of the Holy Week clock is felt.
By Thursday night, the disciples are worn out and unnerved with uncertainty. A lot happens after the noisy entry into the Jerusalem. On Monday, Jesus goes back to the Temple (having scoped it out the night before) and starts a riot. On Tuesday, he curses a fig tree and spends hours confronting the Temple elite. Then he withdraws to the Mount of Olives to give a master class in apocalyptic discourse, confusing everyone. (All of this has to be exhausting to witness.) He and the disciples apparently plan to take Wednesday off. But their rest gets disturbed when a woman anoints Jesus in a gesture that foreshadows his death. Meanwhile, Temple officials plot to kill Jesus, a tricky task that gets easier when an insider named Judas shows up. Thursday finds the disciples rushing to arrange the Passover feast, a major undertaking since they’re in a strange city and affiliated with a known troublemaker.
They don’t yet know Thursday is their last night with Jesus. (He will reappear on Sunday, but not as one of them.) And in the Gospels’ accounts of the Passover meal we find Jesus using every available means to imprint on their spirits the meaning of this moment. A basin of water, a loaf of bread, a pitcher of wine, and words—so many words.
As we have done from our first Holy Week together, Gather will revisit this moment, holding it up in fresh light, inviting new realizations to break through our familiarity with the story. This year we’re taking an interactive approach, combining scripture with other texts and meditations that come to life in brief exercises to bring us closer to the texts. I pray everyone in our community makes time to gather for this service. And when you do, please have a few items ready to enable your participation:
- A bowl or basin filled with water (and a towel)
- A portion of bread
- A glass of wine or juice
- Pen and paper
Once you pull the pieces together, join the Zoom at 7:30pm CDT. This will be a non-replicable, unique Maundy Thursday experience. I look forward to seeing you then.