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Posts Tagged ‘#holyweek’

This Holy Week from Palm Sunday to the following (Easter) Sunday I am contemplating how it is a week of preparation and prophesy fulfilled, a pendulum-shifting drama that swings from joy, to sorrow then to an even greater, impossible triumph.

As this Holy Week has progressed, I have found my heart and mind to be asking three questions:

  • how did the disciples not know what was going to happen as they ate with Jesus?
  • what if I were there?
  • what happened to open the eyes of those who met him on the road?

I need to admit that if I were there, in the time and place of the crucifixion,

I wouldn’t be there!

There is nothing within me that could imagine a reason for choosing to watch a trial (with the potential for a corporal punishment), view another human being carry what would be their cross up a roadway full of angry people spewing vile words and spit, or watch that same human nailed to the cross where he would live out his final hours in agony.

I just wouldn’t be there!

But … when I read the story, I do insert my heart into it.

One thing that I ask myself, consciously or not, when I watch a story enfold (true or fiction), is what character can I most connect or associate with? Once I can associate with someone in the story, then I am there, in the words and drama that enfolds.

The events of Holy Week are always digested in my mind and heart through the person of his mother, Mary.

Her appearance in the accounts of this week is at the foot of the cross.

Each of the four Gospels mention her presence by name, Luke is presumed to include her when he wrote, “and all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things” (Luke 23:40).

She was there … there at the foot of the cross, looking up at Jesus, her son … her child.

As a mom, reading the accounts of what happened to him, I feel emotionally gutted. To try to imagine a mom observing the torturous, stretched-out death of one who had grown inside of you, who you’d nourished at your breast, who you’d cared for, loved and protected … well, I really don’t want to imagine it. But, when I read the accounts of what happed I cannot help but associate with Mary, his mother. I cannot help but mourn for her … for what she would have to see, and hear, and know.

She saw that sign (Mark 15:26),

KING OF THE JEWS

She heard the insults, the mocking, the taunts to save himself (Mark 15:29-32).

She heard him cry out “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

She heard him cry out “I thirst” (John 19:28).

She heard his final words, “it is finished” (John 19:30) and her child was no more.

She heard and felt the earthquake (Matthew 27:54).

She probably heard the centurion guarding Jesus on the cross say, “surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54).

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”” (John 19:26-27). In his final hours, he ensured the care of his mother, after his death, for he knew that she would need a home.

Throughout all that she saw and heard that day, I wonder …

I wonder if she heard words from the past echo in her heart and soul. Words that were prophesy about her …

“And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

These were the words spoken to Mary, by Simeon (Luke 2:35), when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus, as a baby, to the temple to offer him to the Lord.

Did she hear them, over and over, as she saw and heard all that was going on? As her son suffered? As her heart ached?

As a mom, I read this Holy Week story and experience it all through the heart of a mom … and my soul too, is pierced.

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The Feast in the House of Levi” by Paolo Veronese

These days from Palm Sunday (marking the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem) to the following Sunday (marking the rising of Christ) are known in the church calendar as Holy Week.

This week is one of preparation and prophesy fulfilled. It is a pendulum-shifting drama that swings from joy, to sorrow then to an even greater, impossible triumph.

As I have been contemplating this Holy Week, I have found my heart and mind to be asking questions.

These questions I am focusing on as I walk through the week, remembering the events and how they enfolded, bringing myself into this great drama.

These are my queries:

  • how did the disciples not know what was going to happen as they ate with Jesus?
  • what if I were there?
  • what happened to open the eyes of those who met him on the road?

As soon as Palm Sunday passed, my thoughts moved to the final meal, the last supper of Jesus with his ragtag group of disciples.

It boggles my mind that the disciples could have sat, eating with their leader and friend, listened to the words he said, observed actions (Judas) and words of Jesus and of others … yet they seemed clueless to what was happening, what was to happen.

… but I read the Gospel accounts with the benefit of hindsight

Like a person grieving the earthly loss of one held dear, reminiscing over and over again the actions and words spoken by their dearly departed, we can read the accounts of the Last Supper knowing what comes next. Therefore, we read the words with limited possible meaning.

The meal itself was not simply a final meal between friends, but the annual observance and celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast represents the end of the plagues brought to Egypt as a result of their refusal to , as Moses said, “let my people go.” The Jews were saved by painting their doorposts with the blood of lambs, so that when death came by, the blood would prevent it from entering the household … thus it passed over (Passover) their homes. This seder meal was part of a seven day feast, when the only bread eaten would not have been the puffy, yeast-risen bread, but the flat and crispy Matzah type.

Perhaps it is because of this cultural and religious event that the disciple’s minds were not on the future that Jesus was speaking of, but the past. Perhaps all they could see and hear in words of their leader were simply Even Jesus himself said, “I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples” (Matthew 26:18).

Though we see the parallel of celebrating the Passover feast (which celebrated the saving of the Israelites by the blood of the lamb) with the very Passover lamb (whose blood was spilled to save them, us all) … they just saw the observance of a festival.

This Feast of Unleavened Bread … they celebrate it with the very one who said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), but they were just looking for physical (not spiritual) nourishment.

This unleavened bread, a reminder of fleeing Egypt, before their bread rose to wander in the dessert. No yeast was to come with them … symbolizing their need to leave their sins behind them. Jesus, sharing their table, was to become like yeast in their lives, growing and spreading his message of redemption.

These Jesus-followers were primitive mortals who knew only in-part as they sat down to feast with their fearless leader. In the days to come, their eyes would be opened to the drama being written as they simply enjoyed a good meal, drink and companionship around the table.

The banquet was just beginning.

*This video (below) presents a discussion of the Veronese painting (above) and compares it to that of Leonardo da Vinci … this comparison, in my mind contrasts how the disciples might have experienced the Last Supper with Jesus (Veronese) to how we see the Last Supper (Leonardo).

“in some ways it just looks like a banquet, and not a Last Supper”

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“We’re you there
When they crucified my Lord?”

I remember the first time I heard the lyrics to the song were you there, and tears fell onto my cheeks.

Over a hundred years it was a negro spiritual included in a book called Old Plantation Songs, and is a song of questions … from the past and for today.

Today marks the day before the day known as Good Friday.

For some it is called Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. It is a day in the Holy Week when the Last Supper is remembered, and is the model of the ritual of Communion, the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist.

For me, this is the greatest day of contemplation of the entire Holy Week leading to Easter Sunday. On this day I wonder at the events on that day of calm before the storm, for Jesus.

A day of prophesying and preparing his followers for what was to come.

A day which, he knew, was his last chance to speak to his friends who would become his church.

A day when he knew what was to come.

A day when food and wine flowed liberally for his twelve, but the reference point that they were got stuck in his throat.

They lay on their sides enjoying the celebration and sustenance of that day, yet it was his impending death that would give them sustenance and celebration for the rest of their lives.

I often think of the questions of that song, on this day. I ask them of myself, as I prepare for the reality of their (affirmative) answers. We were all there … we are all there.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they nail’d him to the cross?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side? (Were you there?)
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (Were you there?)
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

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