By Pastor Rob Bloss
Many of you have been running on fumes - emotionally, financially, relationally, mentally, and/or spiritually. The battle is real. COVID still has a grip, directly or indirectly, on aspects of our lives. And then there are the countless other trials and tragedies that rise with frequency in our lives and our world. I don’t think I need to make the list, but can we all agree, that it is too long and too familiar.
Holy Week comes just in time this year— we need this week and the message it brings. We need to remember the passion of Jesus, the events of the week beginning with Palm Sunday when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem and culminating in His suffering. We need to celebrate the power of Jesus to overcome the grave and defeat the schemes of the devil and the sting of death!
Nothing changes the reality that Holy Week and Easter reveals. Nothing comes close to the name and power of Jesus!
The practical ways we observe this season may still be a little different this year than years past—video venues, in-home communion for some, cancelled Easter egg hunts or large gatherings for brunch—but the unchanging truth of Easter remains unaffected. In fact, maybe even more this year it offers us renewed peace and hope in the middle of it all.
Holy Week reveals contrasts: crucifixion and resurrection, death and life, sin and salvation, sorrow and hope. How can we best prepare to remember the Paschal lamb? We can renew our minds as Paul told us in Romans 12:2. Here are some specific ways you can do this during Holy Week.
Focus on Jesus and his timeless work on the cross, not temporary issues.
I’m not suggesting we should ignore or even minimize the challenges and tragedies, but we need to remember that we are not alone. God is in our midst. Easter reminds us of this.
This Easter remember what Paul wrote: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:5-8)
Focus on the gospel, not secondary issues.
The gospel is of first importance (1 Cor. 15:3). The gospel is the declaration of the victory we have in Christ because of his substitutionary death for our sin on the cross and his glorious resurrection over death. George Whitefield once said someone may preach the gospel better than him, but they won’t preach a better gospel. There’s no better time than Easter, and especially this Easter, to share this Good News.
Focus on real suffering, not temporary discomfort.
At Easter, it is appropriate for us to lament death and suffering. It’s right for us to weep with those who weep, to mourn with those who mourn. It’s good for us to step into the shoes of those who are feeling alone, afraid, and unfairly accused or unjustly attacked.
But I don’t think it’s okay to harp constantly about our boredom or our busyness, or to go after those who don’t live up to our expectations or agree with our personal positions and preferences. Maybe this year more than others we can understand anew the paradox of Good Friday. It is good because of a blessed cataclysm: Christ’s death bringing us salvation.
As we lament, let our sorrow turn to the sinless Savior of the world, who suffered for us, and like Psalm 13, let our sorrow turn to praise.
Focus on hope, not despair.
We’re not there yet, but we are making good progress and the projections are encouraging. I see new faces, both visitors and returning members, every week at Covenant. There are signs that give us hope of being able to connect with people in ways that will fill our depleted tanks.
Let’s shake the perpetual grey, the acting like we are somehow stuck in the uncertain void between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We are a people of hope, not despair. This is a season to remember the blessed hope we have in Christ (I Peter 1:3-9).
I’m filled with excitement and expectation as we take this journey with Christ as a church this week. Our team is putting together some awesome worship services that you won’t want to miss. I encourage you to make room in your calendar this coming week for Jesus – to remember, to celebrate, and to be touched and transformed by the One who died for us so we could have life abundant and forever!