remember how Jesus gathered with his friends and followers in the upper room for a meal. Some will re-enact the way Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Others will share a meal to remember how Jesus made the simple basics of a meal – bread and wine – into a sacred act of remembrance, which has been passed down over the centuries.
At MCC Newcastle, we come from many different Christian traditions and some of us do not have a Christian background at all. It is interesting to see how different people travel through Lent and Holy Week. Some of us try and have an active discipline during Lent – giving up or taking up something. For some, Lent passes us by unnoticed.
Similarly, there are a variety of attitudes towards Good Friday. Someone commented to me recently that she doesn’t come to the Good Friday service, because it is like Jesus’ funeral and she focuses on the joy of the resurrection and a living Christ. For someone else, it is vital that she attends the service, so that she can feel the depth of the pain of the suffering of Jesus and all that his death means to her in her faith journey.
For me, Jesus’ death remains a mystery. Did Jesus need to be murdered, or would he have been resurrected, whatever he died from?
Why did he need to die for his message to get through – wasn’t his life powerful enough?
What is the meaning of his death, now, in the 21st century?
What does it mean to say “Jesus died for my sins?” I remember hearing this phrase as a small child and wondering what I could have done already that was so bad that Jesus had to die such a terrible death.
The rituals of any church season, including Lent, Holy Week and Easter, take on the personal meaning that we give them. Attending the Good Friday service gives me the opportunity to reflect on the ability of humans, including me, to be cruel, unjust and arbitrary. It offers a chance to think and pray about those areas of my life that I am not at ease with. It always enables me to tap into the fear and desolation that the disciples must have felt and hold that feeling until the miracle of the resurrection.
What does Holy Week mean to you?