If you read the account of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, you notice that immediately following the story of Palm Sunday comes the story of Jesus clearing the temple. If you have not read this recently, I encourage you to look in Matthew 21, Mark 11 or Luke 19. For those who would like to intensely study the differences in these accounts, we can do that another day. For today, I wonder where we are focused as we journey through Holy Week?
Jesus is headed for a brutal end. He knows this is coming. He sees the writing on the wall. If Jesus is spending his last days, once again, sharing with the world that it is time to get our act together, I’m guessing this is important business. In your attempt to clean house, are you trying to make space for the unimportant rather than holding the court of honor for the sacred and holy? For me, this week is about returning to a space of sacred YES. I spent tonight having great conversations with #TeamHilbrich over hamburgers. I will spend time this week in my faith community. We will intentionally slow down, even when the ‘to do’ list is full. If we rush right through this week with packed calendars and full days and hurried emotions, we will find ourselves there on Sunday morning, as well.
The same is true about our churches. For those on church staff, we WORK this week. We want it all to be perfect and polished and excellent. We know that for some folks, this will be the last time we see them until December 24th. Here’s the truth – if we are not journeying with Jesus through this week, everything we try to polish up for Sunday will be empty. May we take tomorrow and Wednesday to walk though our worship spaces and pray that people will encounter the depth of the gift of new life. May we weep with those who are experiencing death and yet claim with them, even when they can’t that resurrection is the promise. I feel certain that if Jesus was to walk through our lives and our churches and see us spiffing up the carpets and scrubbing the bathrooms and planting new plants on the front walk, he would check our hearts. And if he found that our polish and pretty was about the exterior only, he would flip the tables of our churches and our hearts just like he did in scripture.
I watched with the world as Notre Dame, one of the world’s great cathedrals, was gutted by fire today. I was personally devastated that I had yet to visit Paris as by all accounts, my heart would leap in the many treasured buildings that have held the songs of the Church for centuries. It was particularly hard to imagine this happening during this week of journey and faith that is so dear to Christians around the world. I’m just sad. But, I was reminded of a great truth today. As I listened to the media report on the Triduum that will be celebrated this week, I was again reminded that we are in the days of longing and waiting. We will be called to face death this week. I was witness today to streets lined with voices singing the hymns of the Church as united strangers stood vigil in the midst of the pain. THIS is Holy Week. The things that matter to Jesus are the pain and grief and questions of God’s people. In the midst of the waiting and heartbreak and even death, I know that God saw a sight that was fittingly glorious today: The Church.