Walking with Jesus through Holy Week according to St. Matthew
Holy Week is the one week in the year that we set apart to remember the great acts of God in the passion, death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Christians, and Episcopalians, these events are traditionally remembered through a series of liturgies, each distinct yet connected, in which we tell this story once again. In our sacramental tradition, we normally live into the story through music, physical acts and actions, and immersing ourselves deeply into the event with emotion and reverence.
Unfortunately, this year things are very different. Our united response to the spreading of the COVID-19 virus has been upsetting in ways social, communal, physical, and economic. We are all being strongly encouraged to play our important role in the slowing of the pandemic effects which threaten us individually and as a society. Our government and Bishop Prior have provided important guidance and leadership in how we as citizens and members of our faith community will respond to this crisis. We have been asked to physically distance ourselves from others—this is the good and faithful thing to do at this time. Yet, Holy Week is still occurring, and is happening in a different way. The church is NOT closed. The faithful and holy people that make up the church still celebrate Holy Week in new and innovative ways.
I pray that even in this time of physical separation, we retain our identity as Christian community through other means of connection. One way we can do this, is to maintain faith family connections by Walking with Jesus through Holy Week. We have provided you a series of readings from St. Matthew’s Passion Narrative, along with questions to reflect upon in this journey. I encourage you fully participate in this sharing of the story and make this week Holy.
Romans 8:38-39; “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
May God almighty bless you and keep you.
Palm Sunday: Matthew 21:1-11
Q: Jump from Jerusalem to 2020: What do we celebrate as having the potential to save? Celebrities, political figures, athletes, technology? What do we do when we are disappointed in our hopes?
Prayer: Lord God, keep our attention on those things that nurture life and lead us to greater fellowship with you and with each other. Amen.
Monday: Matthew 26:1-16
Q: Where do we see hostility and betrayal in our world? Is there anything that would be worth it to you to betray a friend? What small betrayals have we been ensnared by, and how can we make amends for them?
Prayer: Lord God, prevent us from allowing our bitterness or disappointment to lead us to harm others whether in thought or deed. Amen.
Tuesday: Matthew 26:17-46
Q: What difference does the Lord's Supper make in our lives? Does the meal we share on Sunday nourish our lives in the world? If so, how? If not, how might it? When have you last seen someone who needed a tangible expression of God's love? How can you help that person realize how precious they are to God?
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the gift of your own body and blood. Let that gift strengthen us in the knowledge that you love us more than anything. Amen.
Wednesday: Matthew 26: 47-75
Q: What strengthens us to keep faith with those we care about? What tempts us to abandon them? Where have you felt abandoned? Where do you need the support of good friends? Who needs you?
Prayer: Lord God, protect and preserve us in this world that we might keep faith with the promises and responsibilities we have undertaken, and when we feel alone remind us that you understand and are with us. Amen.
Thursday: Matthew 27:1-31
Q: Where do you see the struggle for power and the easy resort to defamation and violence in our world today? In what ways does fear poison our relationships at home and at work as well as in the larger world? What one thing would you ask God to change about your life or the world? How can you contribute to making that happen?
Prayer: Use us, Lord God, as instruments of peace in world too often broken by violence and a thirst for power. Amen.
Friday: Matthew 27:32-56
Q: How does Jesus' death tell the truth about our lives and world? How does it give us hope? Where do you see God still at work to redeem and preserve creation? Where do you long to see God?
Prayer: Lord God, on the cross you suffered the very depths of our human life, even to the point of death. When we see the cross, let us remember that you become one of us and endured all elements of life to show us your great love and to give us hope. Amen.
Saturday: Matthew 27:57-66
Q: What needs resurrecting in your life? What makes it hard to turn this over to God and trust that God will bring you, too, through death to new life?
Prayer: Lord God, remind us of your presence with us when we stumble, suffer, or are afraid in any way. Give us strength, courage, and peace, and help us to be an encouragement and sign of life to others. Amen.