Most of you know that Holy Week is my favorite week of the year. I love the way the week feels like a virtual pilgrimage, walking us from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, to his last meal with the disciples, to his trial and crucifixion, to his death and resurrection. Each daily liturgy gives us the opportunity to experience that journey in unique, meaningful ways. Knowing my passion for this week, my family is gracious every year with my absences from family life that week. But this year, my husband had an evening work conflict he could not miss, and so I had some options for that night’s service. I could skip the service – I was not serving that night, and was not physically needed. I could hire a baby sitter, using some date-night reserves. Or I could take the girls with me to the quiet service with long periods of silence, knowing how difficult it would be for them after a long day of school.
After much waffling, I decided to try bringing the kids with me. I really wanted to be there for my own spiritual journey, and I hoped the kids might get something out of the experience. I prepped the kids endlessly so that they would respect the periods of silence and the experience of those attending. All in all, for their ages, the girls did amazingly well. There were certainly a few too many wiggles and distracting noises, but for the most part, they were well-behaved. I, on the other hand, was a ball of nervous energy. I know how much I have reveled in the silence of that service and I really did not want to ruin that experience for anyone else. I found myself so anxious about it, that I realized I didn’t get to experience the service in the way I traditionally do.
But here’s what did happen. In the midst of trying to prevents disagreements, and minimize crinkling of papers, I was still able to sing and pray the words of the songs. In the midst of desperately trying to keep kids at whisper-levels, I was able to catch snippets of scripture that hung in my ears and mind. In the midst of impatient children, I was able to hear my children singing along and see my kids embrace participation – whether in lighting candles, handing out bulletins, or praying at the altar.
Here’s the thing about Holy Week services: there are a lot of them, and you might not think you are mentally or spiritually ready for them. You might be curious about some of the services, but are not sure your kids could handle them. Or you might be thinking you are too tired this week to get anything out of the services. No matter what is going on with you this week, I promise that if you can get yourself to Church, God will find you. It may not be in the way you expect, you may not be able to be present as fully as you like, and you might not be convinced it is worth it. But I promise you, if you figure out a way to get to Church this week, God will break through the chaos of life and whisper a word of comfort, and give you a glimpse into God’s grace and beauty. My guess is that if you open yourself up to the liturgies of this week, you might just figure out how to carry those lessons into the rest of the Church year too. The community is gathered this week and welcomes you, wherever you are on your journey, and especially when you do not feel like you have much to offer. Holy Week is a gift the Church offers to you. Your invitation is to just show up.