How I Observe Holy Week || guest blog by Gordon Carpenter

For those of you who are not familiar with the Church calendar, or the Church year, it is a centuries-old way that many Christians have used to order the 365-day year.  The early Christians believed that the rhythm of the year gave us a perfect opportunity to re-enact the story of our salvation. The Church year focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus, and also the mission of the Church.  This has added a richness to my relationship with Christ, especially during Holy Week.

Over the last 5 weeks, I have been observing the season of Lent, which reminds me of my common mission to walk with Jesus toward death, but ultimately new life. We lose our life to find it anew. It has been a time of being with Jesus as he moves toward the cross. This year, I have been using the Gospel of Mark to do that. As I’ve traveled with Jesus, he has invited me to look deeply inside and identify what is impeding my ability to follow him.

The last week of my journey is now upon me, Holy Week. During Holy Week I intentionally slow down so I don’t rush to Easter Sunday and miss all that Jesus goes through for us during that week. I use an ancient practice of reading the Scriptures, developed by Ignatius of Loyola, called imaginative prayer. This is a way of entering into the biblical stories and imagining yourself in the place and the personal interaction in the story. As I pay attention to what’s happening in the story, I pay attention to what I am feeling or what’s stirring in my heart.

I start with Jesus entering into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and I am part of the crowd shouting “Hosanna!” Then I watch Jesus turn over the tables of the money changers in the temple and I am bewildered by his anger.

On Thursday evening, I am at the table as he has his last meal with the disciples and washes their feet. All kinds of emotions are rising up. Can you picture this in your mind? The Creator of the universe washing your feet! Then on to the Garden of Gethsemane to keep watch with Jesus as he prays. Do I fall asleep like the others?

Then his arrest, his trial, his beatings, and carrying what would be the tool for his execution – the cross. My heart is breaking. But then to his crucifixion, where I am at the foot of his cross looking into his swollen and disfigured face. I am overwhelmed with how much he loves me that he would do this for me, who put him on that cross.  I break down and sob.

Then silence on Holy Saturday, waiting and wondering.

This all prepares me for the grand celebration on Easter Sunday at Living Word, and boy do I celebrate because my heart is now ready.

May your Holy Week be a time of meeting the crucified Savior and risen Lord.