For those of us living in the zone of the Western Church, it is Holy Week. Being in many ways bi-cultural, there isn’t a more obvious time when the differences between the two Christian cultures.
In Romania, Easter is such an important time of the year. In some ways arguably, even greater than Christmas. In growing up, Holy Week meant, fasting, attending evening meditations every night at church, Communion on Thursday and a set of very somber, introspective services on Friday. Then on Easter Sunday, everyone turned up at church in their new outfits and had celebrated in an exuberant way.
I loved it because it was a stop-gap from the mundane rush. It was an opportunity to walk daily along with Jesus in His last week. It was a way of deepening your relationship with God, through Scripture reading & prayer. Yet, though I miss it, there is something within me that feels that it was somehow habitual. And the trouble is that habits have a way of becoming meaningless rituals.
Why do I only do it during Holy Week? Why wait for that?
Yet somehow, I know it did my soul good! and I miss it…
Here, in the West, we don’t seem to have the same sort of structure. Things will be happening in small groups. Some public events on Friday. But somehow I always feel like we rush the devotional input to make room for some shopping and leisure. It seems like here we like to ‘clock in’ and then get on with our ‘real lives’.
And maybe that ‘pushes’ me towards a more personal, thoughtful initiative. Why not carve out time to use this season to let the greatest truths of our faith, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection come alive?
I have to confess that maybe the divide isn’t that great nowadays… As materialism and modernism takes it’s toll on the Romanian church, some priorities might have changed there too. I say this graciously, not judgmental.
I have some plans about using this week differently. Not as just a ritual. But because just as much as there are seasons in nature, there are seasons of differing focus for the soul too.
What are you going to do during Holy Week?
Here is a good motto that echoes Paul’s ambition:
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. PHILIPPIANS 3:10-11