Grief and Holy Week

I have been thinking a lot this weekend about Holy Week. Usually, this would be one of the busiest weeks of the year. I would be spending my week in church, recounting the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

We would wave palms and process on Palm Sunday.

We would wash each other’s feet on Maundy Thursday.

We would walk through the Stations of the Cross.

We would read the Passion on Good Friday.

We would stay home on Holy Saturday, until the Vigil.

We would celebrate the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Holy Week in a “normal” year is a week of grief. It is the church’s collective grief over the death of our savior, intermingled with the anticipation of his resurrection. We relive the story, year after year, playing our parts.

But this year is different. This year we grieve in a new way. We grieve our traditions. We grieve physically gathering. We grieve the rising toll this virus has taken on us.

Yet we don’t get to skip Holy Week because we can’t gather together in community. We need it all the more. We need to process triumphantly, remembering our pride when we thought this would never happen to us. We need to be taught to serve one another, and to break bread together, all the more when we are physically apart. We need to read scripture and pray, especially when we are alone. We desperately need a word from Jesus; a word of comfort, of assurance; a story of Resurrection and Hope.

This Holy Week I can’t help but remember the past, and grieve the plans I made and the expectations I had. But that is okay. God laments loss too. Jesus mourned the death of his friend. Jesus is in this, too. As Martin Smith so poignantly says, “There is no place that can shut out the ‘Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’”

So this week, let yourself grieve.

For more, read what my friend Connor says on grief here and on pandemic grief here.

Martin Smith quote from A Season for the Spirit: Readings for the Days of Lent, quoting the end of Romans 8:31-39

Photo taken by Allison.


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