Holy Week is approaching. There is so much drama about to unfold as we recall and mark the last days of Christ’s life. Each year, I try to hear and revere the stories as deeply as I can. I’m wondering, though, if I’m missing the opportunity for a more profound experience to really be with Jesus.
Along each portion of Jesus’s road to crucifixion, there was a crowd near him. Leaving Jericho for Jerusalem, crowds lined the way and clamored for miracles from the famous healer. As Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem, a joyous mood spread through the crowd as they watched and waved their palm branches, calling out their hosannas; everyone loves a parade. After Jesus’s arrest, a crowd again gathered to watch the trial and verdict. They fed on the opportunity to vent anger and cast blame; it was as contagious as Palm Sunday’s goodwill.
Sadly, I sometimes recognize myself in these crowds. I enjoy Palm Sunday’s pageantry. I love the music of Holy Week and Easter, the drama of Maundy Thursday, the austere beauty of Good Friday. These corporate worship experiences feed my needs and expectations. I’m also too quick to get huffy and cast blame when something falls short—in church or my family or my country. I don’t like to admit it.
Do you sometimes feel you are a spectator of your own faith rather than taking it deeply into your mind and soul? Are we an audience for God’s story playing out among us rather than participants, reacting with the crowd rather than with our heart? Do we withdraw when the story gets hard to hear, like the disciples falling asleep in the garden? Join the crowd.
I want to be more than a spectator this holy season. It involves a greater commitment to prayer. It means reading a Passion Gospel daily on my own. Mostly, I think it’s about being completely vulnerable. God is calling us to step out of the crowd and intimately embrace what Jesus’s story offers us, to be part of it. I’ll let you know how I do, and I’d like to hear about you, too.