As a child, Holy Week was steeped in family tradition and lots of celebration. I loved Palm Sunday because I love the word “Hosanna.” It’s just a really good word…and you get to say or sing it a lot on Palm Sunday. Sometime during the week we’d dye more eggs than we could possibly eat. As I reached middle school, we began observing Passover Seders with friends in remembrance of the Last Supper. On Good Friday, we’d avoid meat and Grandma would make us all watch “Jesus of Nazareth” – the interminably long mini-series with a blue-eyed, never blinking, emaciated Jesus.
Easter. Was. The. Best. I had a fun dress to wear, the worship songs at church were peppy, I ate chocolate for breakfast, and I usually got to wear a delicate orchid corsage on my wrist. Easter afternoons were spent at the park with family, eating burgers and playing ball.
I always had a concept of the spiritual gravity of Holy Week and Easter, but it took on new meaning in college. I spent Palm Sunday 2005 in a tiny basement church in the projects of New Orleans. There were no palm fronds, no hosanna’s, and very few dresses. What I found were earnest believers who treated every Sunday as special and holy. I sat through the 3-hour service with a wiggly, young girl on my lap. She was covered in baby powder, wearing clothes that were a few sizes too small…and barefoot. If you’d seen the ground she traversed between her home and the church you’d be mortified at her lack of shoes. She loved me instantly, without hesitation or trepidation. She didn’t care who I was or where I’d come from…she just decided I was the right person to keep her company during the service.
I spent Easter Sunday of that same year in a large, formal church in Texas. The hats and dresses were on full display. The fragrance of lilies filled the air. We sang “Up From the Grave He Arose” at least three full times. It was a joyous celebration, but my heart and mind were back in New Orleans. In the midst of another rousing Easter hymn, it finally sunk in: The little girl in New Orleans was a walking example of Christ’s love – the way she embraced me and had no regard for the circumstances surrounding her. It might seem like an obvious thing, but in that moment it finally transferred from my head to my heart.
I think our lives cycle through the Easter progression on a regular basis. I’m in a Saturday period of my life right now. I’ve endured the darkness and pain of Friday, and now I’m in the silent waiting. I eagerly await the arrival of Sunday…but I know there is much to learn in the patience and uncertainty of Saturday. It would be easy to look at someone’s circumstances and guess what “day” they’re in, but that’s not the full story. The little girl in New Orleans based on her circumstances appeared to be in the midst of Friday…but her behavior? It indicated Sunday all the way.
Whatever “day” you’re in, take solace in the fact that it’s not the end and you’re not alone. I believe Christ holds us through our Fridays and Saturdays because He’s already made it to Sunday and knows what joy it brings.
Wishing you all a blessed Easter, friends.