Holy Week is upon us.
Each year, I’m overcome by the urge to explain why it is that this week affects me in the way that it does. To friends, to family, to other people at church, and to the whole Internet. Not because I feel that I ought to justify why I’m likely to be severely unavailable and not quite my normal self until next Monday, but because I feel every bit of this week deep in my bones and I want to share that with everyone. The things that happen this week are what my faith is all about. The agony and the ecstasy, and all the bits in the middle, and I do maintain that you cannot truly know the full joy of a resurrection until you’ve known the pain that got us there.
We started on Sunday with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
It slows down a bit after that. The next significant thing to happen was that fated Passover, and that is commemorated on Thursday. Then, it all starts to happen very quickly and the liturgy speeds up as did those events. From a meal in a loft, through to Gethsemane and Judas and Pilate and, finally, that long last walk — a death march, in the truest sense of it — and that agonising cry. Then, on Friday, it all stops. We stop. And it’s awful, it’s always awful, and it’s raw and real and worth it, not just for what we might have but for what we had. Do you think, standing at the foot of the cross, Mary and John would have chosen not to love Him if choosing it meant that they could be spared the pain of his death? I don’t. It is better to have loved and lost, they say.
Tonight, we had a Stations of the Cross service. It’s a service that I like because I feel as if, by walking that path, I’m reminded of what I’m actually doing this week. We follow the cross around the church, treading in the footsteps of Jesus, reading his story and thinking about what it all meant and what it still means. The representations that we use are by Gwyneth Leech, who sets them against a background of modern conflict and reminds me that this is not a story of two millenia ago but a story of right here and right now.
We have taken the first steps onto the road that will lead to Golgotha and that has only one possible ending.
Yet, for the next few days, still I dare to pray that it may not be so.