I think this is one of the first years where the term "Holy Week" really
means something to me.
One of Merriam-Websters definitions of holy is
- devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity.
This past week has felt like it was devoted entirely to the work of deity. Yes, I went to work, and cooked dinner, and did laundry, but God was everywhere and in everything that I did. He always is, but I felt it more this week. No longer was I left trying to understand what the Catholic bloggers I read were trying to say when they talk about the joy of Holy Week. I hope that this is just one of many Easters I will feel this way.
The week before Easter, I made a little garland (pictured above). It wasn't anything fancy, I just stumbled upon this tutorial and thought it would be a nice touch. I still haven't taken in down - I really like how festive and cheerful it is.
Palm Sunday we started doing this devotional. It has a passage to read, a few questions and a prayer for each night from Palm Sunday to Easter. With a little bit of commentary and a lot of scripture, it avoided the most common problem in devotionals and was nice and meaty while still only taking 20-30 minutes a night.
Wednesday we celebrated a modified Seder. I have done Seder suppers with churches before and have even hosted one for a Christian sorority I was in back in the college days but Craig and I hadn't ever thought of doing one as a family. But this post gave me the idea. We didn't do the full script but served a simple seder supper using this as a guide. I served lamb stew, egg and onion matza, hard boiled eggs dipped in salt water, horseradish and charoset (I didn't follow a recipe, just mixed some nuts, chopped apples, currants, honey and grape juice). There also should have been parsley but somehow that didn't make it from my list to my shopping cart :-) We read our regular devotional during dinner and then talked about the meaning of each item on the table, both the traditional Jewish meaning and the new meaning that Christ brought. It was really incredible to have a physical way to learn about our Jewish history. No, we aren't Jewish by blood, but as Christians we have been adopted into God's family and so their history is our history. But the original Passover story isn't the whole story by far. To see the new meanings of each items really brought home how God's story was finished. The whole story was planned from the beginning, and it all makes sense - it fits together like a perfect puzzle.
And yes, technically this was a day early but that Thursday nights we have home group and I didn't want to feel rushed. It was a good decision because at the last minute, the home where we normally meet was unavailable so we were able to offer our place. It was just another chance to be thankful we have a small apartment as I only had 2 hours from the time we got home to
make and eat dinner, make a snack for the hg and completely clean the apartment.
Despite the frantic cleaning required, it was another great night. It was our worship night so all we did was sing songs, pray and break bread (or saltines) together. Sitting there with friends, knowing we were doing something similar to Jesus did with his friends just this night two thousand or so years ago, was a little intense. Normally people are quite talkative during our prayer times but this time everyone was speechless. When the night ended, my heart was heavy. But not in the sad, almost depressed way it has been lately do to a lot of circumstances, but in a pensive manner. Just knowing that He had to die, for me, for my sins. There was a weight on me.
Friday afternoon I had off work and we spent some time making sweets and relaxing before heading to Austin for some fun adventures with my brother. We had a great time and I'll try to put up pictures later, but still the weight was still there.
Then Sunday night before heading back home, we went to evening worship with my brother.
Now I learned to love the more casual worship times we have with our hg and our Baptist service but I do miss liturgy. Attending an Episcopalian service was just what I
needed. The hymns I knew, the liturgy, communion - I enjoyed every second and left really rejoicing in the knowledge that Christ has risen. He has risen indeed.
So I have learned a lot this Lenten season, especially this past week. I've learned that I am a physical person, I like to learn from books too but sometimes having daily reminders and activities around me really does make a difference in my ability to think constantly of God, of his work in my life, his goodness, his blessings. But I am not just happy I did it because now I am rejoicing in God's gift. The past week I went through a whole spectrum of emotions this week and through all of it, God was with me. In the worry, in the sadness, in the rejoicing, He was there. And that is true all year long, not just during Holy week.