Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Survivor: Holy Week Edition

The significance of Holy Week- the week between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday (Easter) - cannot be overstated.  So much of everything Christ-followers hold dear and celebrate happened in the last week of Jesus' earthly ministry.  In all of the years that I worked for churches it was difficult to understand the importance of these remembrances to the people of the churches I served, because to the church staff Holy Week and Hell Week are hard to tell apart.  There is so much work, so much to do an it all carries a tremendous weight of significance.  It is both a joy and a burden.  Looking back I can see that.  Looking back, I remember how much all of the special events and programs of Holy Week helped connect the congregations I served to the life of Jesus.  But when you are going through it, it is simply a ministry marathon that must be survived- an all-church "lock-in" that lasts a week and doesn't provide pizza.  Here's a look back at the most insane Holy Week schedule I recall from my career- and remember, I (and most of the staff) had some role in every event on this schedule...
  • Palm Sunday- The parade into Jerusalem was re-created at three morning services. In addition to my regular Children's Moment duties with Pastor John Willis & Hollywood (a puppet), I was in charge on getting children and youth to wave palm branches.  Thank God there was no live donkey, or we all know the youth pastor would have had clean-up detail.  Plus we had regular youth group that evening.
  • Monday-  Because the schedule for the rest of the week is insane, Tuesday night choir practice is on Monday.  Also, there is a rehearsal for the Maundy Thursday drama.  And in a stroke of pure genius, one of the committees I meet with declines to cancel their regular meeting.  I think I got home around 10 PM.
  • Tuesday-  To help us understand our Jewish heritage and the Feast of the Passover, we had invited Jews for Jesus to come and do a Seder meal.  It was very interesting, very educational and VERY time consuming.  Another 10 PM night at the church.
  • Wednesday-  At noon, we had the last of our Lenten Soup, Sandwich and Study lunches for the community. I led music.  Any opportunity to reach out was exciting, and we drew pretty good crowds for a weekday lunch time.  Then we had our regular Wednesday night fellowship dinner and programs that evening.  I think at our Wednesday Night Live youth program we studied exhaustion...
  • Thursday-  Our annual Maundy Thursday drama and Communion service.  Always the best attended event of the week, and usually my favorite too.  Except the year I had to play Judas.  Wasn't crazy about that play.
  • Friday-  A relatively small crowd would gather for a traditional Tenebrae Service- a time to remember Good Friday and the Crucifixion of Jesus.  This was a very moving worship experience, where lights are extinguished until you are in total darkness, and where you depart the service in silence.  I always found this to be a very spiritual time for myself personally, after the week of craziness.
  • Saturday-  No events or programs, just hours of preparation for Easter morning.  I think I may have even spent an hour with my wife!
  • Easter Sunday-  6 AM lakefront Sunrise Service, always led by our student ministry.  Most years a key actor or musician over-slept and stressed me to no end- but we always survived. At least until the year the city of Kissimmee forgot to turn off the sprinklers.  And why did this always seem to be the Sunday that the time changed?We usually then served a breakfast between the Sunrise Service and the first (of 3) regular services (in which Hollywood and I led the children on a tour of the empty tomb).  When it was all over at noon, it was time for relatives and a good old fashioned Easter lunch, featuring ham- just like the Jewish disciples would have done it!  Whew...
And it was done.  It was often unbelievably stressful and exhausting, but I never doubted that it was worth it.  If all of that helped even one person connect with what Jesus did for us that week, then it was all worthwhile.  If Jesus doesn't go to the Cross, if Jesus doesn't die for our sins, if Jesus doesn't rise again and conquer death on Easter morning- then there is no such thing as a Jesus Revolution.  And without that revolution, there are no Survivors.  Remember that as you go through Holy Week.  The revolution that began at Calvary still goes on today.  Thank you, Jesus.

Because of Jesus,

1 comment:

  1. Just checking to make sure this comment thing still works... :)


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