Monday, March 30, 2009

Children and Holy Week

The events of Holy Week, the most sacred time of the Christian calendar, define who we are as Christians. The liturgies are designed to help shape our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus, to be a Christian, and the wonderful thing that God did for us through Jesus. On Palm Sunday we watch with the crowd as Jesus makes his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday, the first of three Triduum liturgies, we participate as the disciples did in the foot washing, learning what it means to serve as Jesus served, and to love as Jesus loved. On Good Friday, we pray for the world, for those who suffer in it as we gaze upon and reverently touch the cross upon which Jesus, in life and in death, bore all of our suffering. At the Easter Vigil we carry the light of Christ through the dark, participate in the sacred stories of the Old Testament, initiate new members into the body of Christ through the waters of baptism, renew our own baptismal covenant, shout alleluia in recognition of Christ’s resurrection. As we move through the Holy Week liturgies we experience again in wonder the gift of Christ. We are called to participate (by our posture, response, prayer, song, our outstretched hands at the peace and in the receiving of the eucharist). These multi-sensory, experiential liturgies are ideally suited for our young people. So bring them – come and see with them – and let them share with us this greatest of mysteries through their eyes!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thoughts on Lent IV

The lessons appointed for this Sunday (March 22, the Fourth Sunday in Lent) raise yet another paradox of faith: when caught up in the power of God, that which was destructive, even deadly, becomes life giving. The poisonous snake, striking down the Israelites, when lifted up on Moses’ staff becomes the source of healing. The Cross, an instrument of shame, humiliation and death, with Jesus lifted upon it becomes the place of our salvation. The key, at least by way of these lessons, seems to be a willingness to look unflinchingly at - dare one say, embrace - that which we would rather avoid. Easy words for a blog or a sermon; very difficult in real life, when it means facing the death of a child, or the ending of a marriage, or a deep hurt, loss or disappointment. And yet the hope and the promise are there. It is the pulse of Holy Week and Easter. It is where we are going these last few weeks of Lent. May Christ walk closely with us.