This is the most unusual Holy Week I have ever experienced.
Last Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday, I attended the memorial service for my mentor and friend, Bishop Bev Jones. Serving on his staff while I was in seminary was an invaluable part of my training for ministry. I thank God for the sequence of events that made possible that opportunity.
On Palm Sunday, Sherrill and I received word that her brother was hospitalized due to a sudden medical crisis related to his three-year battle with mantle cell lymphoma. We made the eight-hour drive to Punta Gorda, Florida. It’s one day at a time for now. We are thankful for the compassionate medical team that is caring for him.
Each of these experiences reminds me of the deeply personal significance of Holy Week. The Christian faith begins with the reality of the rejection, suffering, and death of Jesus. Christianity does not dodge these harsh realities, it embraces them. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Whether in a sanctuary memorial service or an intensive care unit, the cross speaks to us of God’s strength that is made perfect in our weakness.
Holy Week is a journey to the cross, the center of our faith. Meditating on the crucifix connects us with the wounds of Jesus, “…by his stripes we are healed.” Meditating on the empty cross, the Resurrection Cross, connects us to God’s victory over sin, evil, and death.
Wherever we are, in whatever situation we find ourselves, let us “Lift High the Cross.” In the face of human suffering and evil, lift high the cross. In the face of injustice and oppression, lift high the cross. In the midst of uncertainty and anxiety, lift high the cross.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, we are not alone. God is with us. Lift high the cross.
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.