The Hope Canteen Podcast, Episode 44: Holy Week 2021

Holy Week 2021
Episode 44: Holy Week 2021

We have now come to the end of our Lenten observance. This weekend, we are crossing the threshold into the short but intense season of Holy Week, so called because it brings us closest to the great mystery of God’s love.

Holy Week leads us into Easter by leading us to the cross. Four important church services give shape to the Holy Week pilgrimage. Palm Sunday recalls Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. On Thursday, we remember the last supper and Jesus’ betrayal at the garden of Gethsemane. Good Friday marks crucifixion and death of Jesus. There is no service during the day on Saturday to observe the reality of Jesus lying in the tomb.

What do you find meaningful in Holy Week? How is Holy Week speaking to you in 2021? Feel free to join the conversation and share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Heart of Christianity

On Palm Sunday, we read a story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem and people waving palms and shouting Hosanna! I want to get back to basics and look at why we are stopping here to read this story: it is about the heart of our Christian faith.

And what is that? The heart of Christianity is a personal, living relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Unseen but real, God is a creative, dynamic, living force who is in and through and behind all things. But more than a force, God is a presence. More than a presence, God is a person, a father who radiates life. God is the source of all we call love and goodness. And God wants to be in relationship with us. This relationship is life giving, dynamic, powerful. God has made us for relationship with God and each other.

The Bible doesn’t use the word relationship because that is a modern catch-all word. The Bible uses words like faith (our relationship with God), prayer (our language of talking and listening to God), assembly, and communion (the Bible’s words for our relationship to each other, rooted in God.)

How Messy Can This Get?

The problem is that we have an immense capacity to mess things up. We turn relationship into power, jealousy, and self-centered advantage. We have inhumanity within our humanity. In some ways, history is a long story of domination, power politics, and oppression. None of that is of God. 

Jesus: Healer, Saviour, Restorer

This is where the Gospel comes in. The Gospel is the good news that God intends to restore the human heart to its fully beautiful humanity. In this way, God restores human communities to being vibrant groups of creative, loving individuals who are compassionate and passionate. The Gospel is the good news that in Jesus, God has started a long process of rescue and healing from corruption.

The biblical word for this process is salvation. When we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we are praying for God’s salvation to be made real in our lives and our world through Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God is wherever we live out God’s will and purposes. It proclaims that all people are the children of God, for in God’s kingdom there is no slave or free, there is no Jew or Gentile, there is no male or female. (Galatians 3:28)

Never Forget

This is why set aside time during Holy Week to tell the story of how God rescues the human heart and all creation. Holy week is the story of how God moves heaven and earth to restore us and the world. This is not through violent overthrow, but through the most surprising and profound act of sacrificial love ever.

It is so profound that ancient Christians set it at the centre of the church year to make sure we will never forget. So every year we take this week to walk the path of the cross. We feel the warmth of the last supper and experience the pain of Jesus’ betrayal. We weep to see our beloved Jesus beaten. Our heart breaks when he dies so cruelly on the cross. Never in all of human history did we expect that God would come as a human being and sacrifice himself out of love for humanity.

Please take this time in Holy Week to remember the great love of God poured out in Jesus… and give thanks.