Holy Week and Easter
Living the Seasons
Holy Week and Easter – Living the Seasons
The Rt Revd Kate Wilmot | Assistant Bishop
One of the things our modern, convenient lifestyle can take away from us is a sense of the change of seasons. This is especially true if we work in a place without a view, don’t have space for garden at home, and spend a lot of time inside or travelling in a climate-controlled vehicle.
The change of season in the outside world, when we can experience it more fully, encourages us to reflect. Seasonal change speaks to us of possibility and helps us understand time as a cycle and not just a one-way thoroughfare.
Our church calendar also moves in a cycle rather than a straight line, and the days that we observe in Holy Week and Easter are like mini-seasons, each drawing us into different emotions, reflections and experiences.
But the seasons of Easter are only really perceptible to us if we pause long enough to take them in and that can be challenging. We know that Easter is so much more than Bunnings, chocolate, feasting and a four-day weekend but sometimes the people right next to us, whom we love and value will be taking a different path through these days.
We live every day in a reality in which Christ is risen but the mystery and amazement of that truth can seem far away when we are weighed down and pressured by the details and demands of life.
So even though we know the end of the story, in order to enter fully into the joy, the feasting of Easter we need some days of ‘fasting’. Lent gives us that, but Maundy Thursday and Good Friday tell us the story up close and personal and we cannot avoid the seriousness of what we hear. On these days, we go to a deeper level.
Maundy Thursday is the threshold between the ordinary life that Jesus’ followers expected and the disruption that took place with Jesus’ arrest. We also find our lives interrupted for serious purposes. We lay down our work for the next few days. If we share a meal at church, what follows is not relaxation but disjunction. We may see the familiar interior of the worship space emptied and stark. We know the next day will not be ‘business as usual’.
On Good Friday, we cannot escape the reality of Jesus’ death on the cross, just as his disciples could run away from it no matter how they tried. For them it was shatteringly bad news. For us, it is tragic history and we must confront the fact that even in spite of the Good News, our human life and relationships are flawed, sinful and broken. If Good Friday is a season, it is bone sapping chill of winter, or the most dizzying, blinding summer heat.
Holy Saturday takes us into a time of waiting, where things are suspended and not quite complete, we may feel ill at ease, in the space between seasons. We may find ourselves wondering what to do with the day in front of us.
On Easter Day, the first rains come [or the sun breaks through], we feel in a strong way that we are made afresh and that the new creation is a reality. Our identity as restored and redeemed people feels unshakeable and we rejoice in the victory of Christ. We breathe deeply the joy of the Easter mystery.
All of this comes to us best when we live the moments of Holy Week, day by day and hour by hour.
We are completely ready to enter the feasting because we have experienced the fasting.
May the mystery of Christ’s victory be deep for you and holy.