Once upon a time, I would take families on a spring break mission trip to work at Westhaven Children’s Home in Jamaica. (I actually still do this. Look for the next trip over spring break, 2019!)
About half the time, in the community I was serving, our spring break would coincide with Holy Week. As an Associate Pastor, I was still able to lead the group during this time. We would leave the Saturday before Palm Sunday, and would travel home on Saturday night, the night before Easter.
These were really weird years.
When our group would gather for devotions on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we tried to mark these two important and somber events in the life of Christ. But I’ve got to be honest, it was hard to remember the darkness and pain of Good Friday while sitting on a Jamaican beach, under a grove of palm trees with the ocean rolling at your feet.
So inevitably, we’d fly home the next day, arrive in the early evening and get home around 8pm. After telling trip stories to the family, I’d go to bed…exhausted. And I’d get up at 5am to be at the early service. It was one of the most spiritually surreal experiences I’d ever had. Being parachuted in to Easter, without really experiencing the twisted emotions of Palm Sunday, the betrayal of Maundy Thursday, the sadness of Good Friday or the impatience of waiting during Holy Saturday, made Easter feel pretty superficial. I realized that I’d missed the middle. I’d gotten everything in Lent leading up to Holy Week, I’d gotten Easter, but I’d missed the middle.
Don’t get me wrong. Easter was still Easter. And we are Easter people. But I was reminded when this would happen that while our faith culminates with Easter, it is built on the whole week that precedes it.
To have Easter without the days that led up to it made it more difficult to connect with the emotion of the day. It felt…well…kind of hollow.
My word of advice to you today is: Don’t miss the middle.
The Easter story is powerful and transforming. Hearing it anew can change our faith and our lives. But hear the whole story. Don’t skip the parts that lead up to the gift of the resurrection. There is depth and meaning there.
- Our Maundy Thursday services are at noon (followed by lunch), and 6pm (preceded by dinner).
- Our Good Friday Children’s Service is at 11am. That evening’s Good Friday Tenebrae worship service is at 7pm
- On Holy Saturday, our Easter Vigil service begins at 5pm.
- And on Easter morning, our worship services of celebration, with Holy Communion, are at 6am, 8am, 9:30am, 10am and 11am.
Here the story this week…the whole story. Close your eyes and let it wash over you. Because it is in the power of God’s Word that Jesus is revealed, and the resurrection becomes real.