Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Today we begin Holy Week, a
sacred time that Christians mark every year to tell again the central mystery of our faith: the
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a worshipful time of celebration, contemplation, and
dwelling deeply with God and the entire Christian church around the globe.
Of course, I don’t need to say why this year will feel different than the others. We will journey
through this most holy time in isolation from one another, without any of the festive worship,
candles, Passion drama, and hymns sung together. “Holy Week this year will feel strange,” we
say. “It just won’t be the same.” And this is true.
But if we listen to the Passion narrative with our COVID-19 ears, we may find that there is space
in this sacred story for even the pandemic nightmare we are currently living. Today, Palm
Sunday, we communally ritualize the abrupt shift from a large, joyful crowd to a small group
huddled behind closed doors to total solitude. Sound familiar?
Blood money exchanged in secret. A meal shared in an upper room. Jesus praying at a distance
from others in the garden. Peter watching from a distance as Jesus is questioned in the home of
Caiaphas. Jesus mocked, abused, and crucified – alone, as others watch from a distance. Two
bandits crucified on either side (I imagine them spread at least six feet apart). And finally, a lone
body is placed inside a secure tomb, and the door is sealed shut.
Holy Week will feel different this year. But perhaps, this year, we will be opened to wrestling
with this mystery in a different way, a way that is much closer to how the first disciples of Jesus
experienced Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter morning. They were afraid. They were
unsure of their future. They were devastated. Sound familiar?
Church, may we enter into this time fully, with all of our human fears and frailty and hopes and
concerns. Jesus is with us.