Holy Week and Palm Sunday
Holy Week 2021
When I started to prepare for a time of reflection for Holy Week, I was not certain what the position would be regarding social distancing etc. In the UK we have a Road Map looking, hopefully, towards fewer restrictions. We will still have to be careful, taking care of ourselves and of others. It has not been an easy year; I imagine we will all have had good days intermingled with darker periods when dark clouds seemed to engulf us. It became difficult to be motivated and ‘looking on the bright side of life’ was clearly restricted to the lyrics of Eric Idle and the theme tune of Monty Python.
Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best
Always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the light side of life
We have lived through times when life was neither bright or light and whistling did not help and if we are honest neither did swearing or cursing, except, perhaps, for a fleeting moment.
Among the things that did help were the seasons, nature taking us through Spring and its light into Summer with its warmth and then the changes that Autumn brings with its own beauty and finally the cold and rain of Winter and then we were back to Spring again. The rich tapestry of nature there in spite of or is it despite COVID19. There are, of course, the other Seasons, seasons and feast days of faith. Our year starting with Advent preparing us for Christmas and Epiphany. From celebration we move into Lent and Holy Week followed by the joy Easter and into the Sundays of Trinity, Sunday’s of growth in faith leading us back to Advent and the cycle begins again. During these seasons we have the rhythm that our sacred texts offer. These sacred texts recount the stories that have become deeply rooted in our faith journey’s.
COVID19 has cancelled many things but it has not cancelled the seasons. Hopefully we can still appreciate them but perhaps in a different way. I have missed not being together as a community worshipping, singing, praising and celebrating the Eucharist together. I have also missed the greetings at the door, the smiles, the words at The Peace and the chats at the end of the service. All those little gestures that say you belong, ‘I belong’, we belong together. Perhaps I took these little gestures for granted and with COVID19 I had forgot, we have forgot, the importance, those little gestures that are like the mustard seed they have the ability to grow and grow into something much bigger. Deny these gestures and the seed remains just a small and insignificant speck. The potential lost.
Jesus had the knack of taking the small things of life and allowing it to grow through their use, either a story retold or an act re-enacted and remembered and cherished.
This year, for the second year running we will have no hymns or songs to sing together, we will be socially distanced, a phrase I have begun to ‘hate’, but I know it is necessary as are face coverings. But this year is different from last year we can come together this Holy Week it will not be commemorated in isolation this year. We can rebuild the sense and reality that we belong, we belong to a community of faith that is far deeper than being part of something on-line, that we can dip in and out off as the mood takes us. Don’t get me wrong, the use of on-line, at home worship has been a vital link for many of us and over the last weeks and months and will continue to have a role to play.
With this in mind I offer some short reflections for Holy Week, mainly from the words of St Mark but also with some from St John. I wish you a blessed Holy Week where you can glimpse at the holiness of the events that unfold during the week.
Firstly, sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths. A guide is to breath through your nose for the count of two, then breath out through your mouth for count of four.
Open yourself to the Gospel, experience the words, enter into the story and
read through the verses two or three times slowly.
Imagine you are just a few feet away from Jesus.
Imagine you are a witness to this event and the other events as the week unfolds.
Firstly, a few verses from Mark’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
The disciples . . . brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ (Mark 11.7-10)
o Jerusalem was crowded, noisy, it’s not the most comfortable place to be. How do you think you would feel in the crowds?
o Above the noise to hear the shouts, you just about make out the shout of ‘Hosanna’.
o You notice cloaks being thrown on the road and leafy branches being waved in the air.
o You then see a man riding a colt, a young donkey, Jesus.
o What strikes you the most from these verses, was it the excitement of the crowds?
o How did the disciples look? Puzzled, excited or did they have a worried look?
o How did Jesus look as he rode on the donkey?
o Now how do you feel about this scene that you have become part of?
o Hold onto those thoughts for a while and then re-read the verses from Mark 11.
Sit quietly for a while and read again the words from St Mark’s Gospel.
Now pray the Lords Prayer followed by
True and humble king, hailed by the crowd as Messiah:
grant us the faith to know you and love you, that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory. Amen
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen.
Rev Derek Akker