It is Holy Week. I’m reminding myself that, because at the moment it’s hard to keep track of what day it is, let alone what week it is. Holy Week without waving palm crosses in church, without a version of the ‘last supper’ with friends around the table, without hoping for warmer weather for the Good Friday walk of witness, without the anticipation of the joyful service on Easter Day as we tell each other “he is risen”.
Instead, a week of minimal outside contact and trying to find ways to support other people so that isolation does not tip over into loneliness or even desperation. What kind of Holy Week is that?
I think it must have been on the radio that I heard someone mention the increasing isolation of Jesus in Holy Week. It’s worth thinking about as we reflect on the familiar story:
The disciples falling asleep in the garden of gethsemane, as Jesus prayed alone.
The betrayal by Judas Iscariot – one of the twelve, one of his closest friends.
The denial by Peter – three times.
The desertion of all the disciples – as they run away from Jesus’ trial,
The crowd shouting for the release of Barabbas, and the crucifixion of Jesus.
The mocking of the soldiers.
The jeering of the crowd.
The physical agony of being lifted on the cross.
And then the silence of death and the darkness of the tomb.
We may all be more used to a Holy Week that is busy and filled with activity and services, but for Jesus, this week was one of loneliness, pain and bitterness.
God being made flesh in Jesus Christ means that our God has experienced, from the inside, what this life feels like. Even this time of enforced isolation is something that God, in Jesus, knows and understands.
So this Holy Week, can we allow ourselves to imagine Jesus with us, in our homes, at our side, knowing our pain and frustration?
Can we allow our hearts to still leap with joy on Easter Day as we hear the voice of the risen Jesus, saying “peace be with you”?
Can we believe that the love of God is stronger than our isolation, our confusion, even stronger than death?
Then we can we pray, as never before, the words “May the grace of our lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, evermore. Amen.”