Baptists have revivals. Episcopalians have holy week. A friend and seminary classmate made this comment a few years ago on the verge of holy week and it is very true. Holy week is a revival for Episcopalians. We are close to finding ourselves immersed in a new holy week which affords us new chances and opportunities to again be revived, renewed, and transformed at the Chapel of the Cross.
This Sunday we will celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The pomp and circumstance surrounding that event is almost immediately juxtaposed by solemnity and dare I say it, even sadness, as we read Jesus’s passion according to Matthew. From there we are ushered into holy week. From there we are invited into the stories. We become a part of those stories as the events of our Lord’s betrayal, crucifixion, repose in the tomb, and ultimate victory over sin and death unfold throughout the week.
As Episcopalians, we are Easter people. This does not simply mean we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Being the Easter people means that we believe, remember, and celebrate everything that came before his glorious resurrection. In other words, Episcopalians do not just wake up on Sunday, April 16th, and celebrate Easter. We immerse ourselves into the WHOLE story. The ugly parts. The parts that make us sad. The parts that we would rather not hear. To be Easter people, we have to hear about and remember the pain of betrayal on Maundy Thursday. We have to hear about and remember the bloodshed and physical pain of the crucifixion on Good Friday. We have to hear about and remember the seeming hopelessness of our Lord surrounded by the grave on Holy Saturday. Before resurrection can occur, we have to hear about and remember how resurrection was possible in the first place: by death on a cross.
From the triumphant entry to the triumph over death; from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, this is what holy week affords us: the chance to be the Easter people. It affords us an opportunity to again hear the old, old story of Jesus and his love. It affords us the opportunity to marvel at the wonderful works of our God. It affords us an opportunity to come hear the story. To be a part of the story. We sit with our Lord at the last supper. We deny with Peter. We shout “Crucify” with the angry crowd. We lay our Lord in the tomb with Joseph of Arimathea. While it is still dark, we go with Mary Magdalene on the first day of the week to discover that same tomb is empty. We are the Easter people. This is our story. This is our identity. Come hear it. Come be a part of it. Come be a part of holy week at the Chapel of the Cross. Come and be transformed!