These unprecedented days of the COVID19 pandemic are disorienting for all of us. No matter your age and stage you are affected by the disorienting feelings of grief, worry, and uncertainty.
Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year for Christians. As a priest I view the liturgies of Palm/Passion Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter as the most instructive and important to our spiritual becoming. My staff and I put enormous energy into making them beautiful and meaningful year after year. This week the church will remain dark for all of them. Disorienting.
The pandemic has caused us to change our daily life for the sake of a larger good. Slogans like “We are in it together” “All In Illinois” “Flatten the line.” help us to remember that staying home as much as possible, wearing face masks when we do go out, and social distancing are our communal banding together for a good cause, a saving cause. These sacrifices pale in comparison to what first responders, all medical staff, grocery store, and all other essential business folk are doing. Their sacrifice for the sake of a larger good is humbling to behold.
The pandemic has caused sacrifice to become a central part of our daily lives.
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Jesus’ sacrifice is the center of our Holy Week liturgies. More than what he did long ago for humankind this is a spiritual pattern that brings God’s meaning and purpose into our lives.
It is poetically outlined in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross.
There is a name for following the pattern of Christ's sacrifice it is called - kenosis. It means we give ourselves to what God is doing in our lives.
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Holy Week has begun how will we enter it?
For the first time we do not get to go to church for Easter, but that may be one of the best things that ever happened in your life if you let it. With the absence of normal religious routine, what could you do instead to grow in faith?
I leave you with the words that God gave me in the middle of the night as a young woman disoriented by her life: “Experience is finite, knowledge is finite, My love is infinite”. These words changed my life because they directed me toward God’s life.
Your life is not yours. It is God’s. You are God’s gift to the world. God is living through you. You can choose a life ever more deeply partnering with infinite love.
Fall in love with God and surrender to the love that wants to live and express through you. This is the path of self-emptying, the path of the cross, the path of Christ.
Let us pray,
Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen