Monday Matters (April 8, 2019)


Pray these prayers as you prepare for Holy Week

A preface for the Eucharistic prayer in Lent:
You bid your faithful people cleanse their hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast (i.e., Easter); that, fervent in prayer and in works of mercy, and renewed by your Word and Sacraments, they may come to the fullness of grace which you have prepared for those who love you.
A Prayer for Monday in Holy Week:
Almighty God, whose dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other that the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A Prayer for Tuesday in Holy Week:
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A Prayer for Wednesday in Holy Week:
Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

What makes holy week holy? 

In just a few days, we’ll begin our journey through the week at the heart of the Christian faith. We call this week holy, and the question I want to pose this morning: What makes it so?

We talk about holy places, thin spaces where the distance between heaven and earth diminishes. That can often be churches, or particular corners of churches. A yoga mat can prove to be sacred, set apart. A walk in the woods or on the beach can be holy. A certain chair in a home may be holy.

There are public places that convey holiness. For me, the Lincoln Memorial is one of those, as the gracious, wise, healing words of Lincoln’s second inaugural address are carved into stone. My recent visit to the motel/museum where Martin Luther King lost his life filled me with a sense of holiness. As visitors filed by the small motel room, conversation stopped. We were on holy ground.

We talk about holy times. Next week, for instance. In my experience, that sense of holiness only comes as I pay attention to it, which includes preparing for it. I grew up in a tradition that made a big deal about Easter, but didn’t do a whole lot to observe the days leading up to Easter. My migration to the Episcopal Church taught me that the Easter experience, the power of the message of resurrection, is deepened by observance of the week that precedes. I get glimmers of why that week gets set apart, why it’s holy.

During that week, it’s not like everything else stops (thought that’s a tempting approach). It means that on some level, varying from year to year, I attend to the reason for the season, attend to the message of the various liturgies that unfold during this rich week, in ways great and small.

There’s Palm Sunday, with the spiritual whiplash that begins with the grand Jerusalem parade echoing with hosannas. That grand procession turns quickly to Jesus’ arrest and trial, torture and execution, a reminder that public opinion can shift pretty quickly. We are nothing if not fickle.

There are the first three days of the week, each with their thematic contribution to the story. Check out those stories we read each year. Why do you think we read them?

There is Maundy Thursday, with takes its name from the commandment (mandatum) to show love, to be of service, reflected in the institution of the eucharist and the washing of the disciples’ feet. What does that holy night teach us about putting faith to work in the world? There is Good Friday, which always poses the question of why we call this Friday good. There is Holy Saturday, a day to note that grief often calls simply for silence. All of that gets us ready for Easter beginning with the Great Vigil of Easter, arguably the most awesome liturgy in our Prayer Book (IMHO). All of it can be holy, set apart.

And all of it offers a window into the wholly holy mystery of God’s love at work in the world, God’s love overcoming the worst that the world can dish out. All of it points to the mystery that in the face of human denial, betrayal, violence, abuse, duplicity, cowardice, callousness, in the face of all of that (a gracious plenty), love wins.

That’s what we celebrate in Holy Week. So how might you and I prepare for this week? I can’t say what that will be for you. I’m not sure this year what it will be for me. But God knows. So maybe we can use this last week of Lent to ask God to help us each to experience this holy week as holy.

-Jay Sidebotham

Jay Sidebotham

Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.