The Week Ahead

In this time of suspended church activity and virtual worship, we are now approaching the most holy week of the Christian year. With so many new people at Saint Matthew’s, and others who may want memories refreshed, I thought it a good idea to do a brief summary of the week ahead. As we go forward, I will continue to provide any internet resources that come to my attention to enhance your experience of Holy Week. And, as usual, I will blog sermons throughout the week.

On Palm Sunday, we normally gather to process and wave palm branches, in emulation of the story of Jesus’ arrival at Jerusalem. (Mt.21: 1-11) Here Jesus is received by the people with accolades praising God. Later, in the proper Gospel reading (Mt. 26: 14-27, 66) the tone has changed and people call for Jesus’ crucifixion. The story reminds us that too often we may lean towards what is popular or political, rather than what is right. We can be fair-weather friends of what is right and just.

On Chrism Monday, the usual practice is for all the clergy of the diocese to travel to the Cathedral in Oklahoma City for Mass with the bishop, renewal of our respective ordination vows, and to witness the Bishop’s blessing of holy oils for the coming year, which we bring back for congregational use. We also have personal time with the bishop before we go home. This year the Bishop will preside and meet with us using a zoom-room, after which oils will be mailed to the individual churches.

Maundy Thursday is a day with two primary themes. One is the sacred institution of the Lord’s Supper. At that last Passover and first Mass, the Saviour consecrated bread and wine to be his Body and Blood, and then ordained the apostles. They thus continued the rite and ordained bishops who have ordained the succession of bishops, and priests, right down to today. What a wonderful gift! The second theme is from John’s gospel, in which the institution of the Eucharist is not mentioned but instead we have a long sermon by Jesus about his Real Presence in the Sacrament (John 6: 51-58) and a narrative of Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples after the Last Supper (John 13: 1-17, 31b-35). At Saint Matthew’s on this day we would have Mass, then strip the altar (remove all ornamentation), remove remaining Sacrament for adoration in the Lady Chapel through the night and consumption at the Good Friday service. Besides contemplating Our Lord’s gift of Himself to us in the Sacrament and his modelling of humble ministry in the footwashing tale, we might ask what kinds of extra freight, “ornamentation,” in our lives needs to be stripped away from the altar of our heart in order to be most fully dedicated to serving God and others.

Like Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, at the other end of Lent, is a solemn day of fast and abstinence. We pray, meditate, and contemplate Jesus’ death on the cross which was caused by human sin, in which we all participate. We complicate our complicity when we continue to tolerate and even support systems of injustice, violence, imperialism and oppression, like those that crushed Our Lord. As the old hymn says, “‘Twas I denied Him, I crucified Him.” Let our present day behaviour not serve to crucify Him afresh in the world. The Gospel reading for the day is from John (18: 1-19,42). Please do keep in mnd that this late and largely anti-Semitic material is not historical.

Finally, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate God’s refusal to let the Dark Side win the battle of Good Friday. For in Easter God wins the war against evil, by raising Jesus — and us in him — to new, abundant, eternal life. What a triumph and source of hope and inspiration in a darkened world!

Every prayer and blessing for a wonderful Holy Week and Easter in this time of challenge and opportunity!

2 Comments

    1. Author

      Thank you. I am glad that you enjoy my blog.

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