Palm Sunday was a spiritual high for me this year. Pastor Stephen’s sermon was extremely impactful once again, and I left the church very much aware of what Palm Sunday meant for me. Then, I went home and went grocery shopping – just like I would any other day.
I wrote a very similar paragraph to that one three years ago in Palm Cross, and it was laced with regret and frustration. But this year, the circumstances are almost identical – I put a lot into, and got a lot out of, Palm Sunday morning this year, then I did a bunch of regular chores on Palm Sunday afternoon and evening. The difference was that I regard 2014 as a great Palm Sunday from start to finish.
For a long time, I’ve felt a strange mixture of entitlement and obligation regarding Holy Week: I should be able/allowed to put my to-do list aside and let Holy Week be a holy week in reality as well as in name. I should be able to make it a priority, and the rest of the world should cut me as much slack as I need, without me having to speak up about it. After all, how can I possibly have time to focus on the climactic final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry if I still have to do all of the stuff I have to do?
And I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, procrastination –blowing off my shopping, laundry and cooking until Monday – is no solution. Knowing I’ll be playing catch-up for the rest of the week is a recipe for stress today, in addition to what will come tomorrow. And neither is pre-crastination (anticrastination?) – working myself to death on Saturday to make Sunday chore-free – for similar reasons. (For one thing, there’s no point washing clothes that the family hasn’t worn yet!)
But yesterday on my way home from church, it occurred to me (all by myself, to be sure) that no earthly activity – not even studying the Bible alone, or sitting on the couch and watching a Jesus story DVD with my family – would really do justice to what Holy Week is really about. So if all earthly activity falls short, why split hairs about which ones fall shortest? Instead of trying to make Holy Week special on the outside, why not make it special on the inside, by seeking the holiness in the humdrum?
That’s a verse from the title track of Matt Redman’s recent worship album, Your Grace Finds Me, and it’s bang-on about God’s holiness as well as His grace. God is just as present in the laundry room at home as He is in the prayer chapel at church. He’s with us at the kitchen table no less than at the Communion Table. And He’s just as eager to meet with us, wherever we are.
Yesterday as I folded three loads of laundry laundry and prepared five nights’ worth of suppers, I listened to some of my favourite worship music, and sang (prayed) along with it as I worked. The inspiration to write this post (and, potentially, others) came to me in that time, so it was clearly time well spent from a spiritual perspective, as well as a practical one.
In effort to build on that, I’ve assembled a Holy Week Playlist to take me from Hosanna to He Reigns, and I’ve been listening to it while I walk my dogs in the evening, and also while I manage spreadsheets at the office. And to add some variety, I made sure had my Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack in the car for my crosstown commutes.
I don’t mean to say that it’s the worship music that was different. I spend most of my Sunday afternoon laundrapaloozas listening to similar songs. It was the decision to not let earthly to-do list rain on my Palm Sunday parade; to spend time with God in the midst of my busyness, rather than wallowing in frustration that I was so busy on a holy day.
Now, I’m not saying Holy Week wouldn’t be even holier if I were actually able to set aside all of my earthly responsibilities and spend the time immersed in nothing but in prayer, study, reflection and fellowship. I hope to find out someday. But until then, I’ll make the busy, messy Holy Week as holy as I can by embracing God as fully as I can in any given moment.
So even though I’m not able to take this week off from bringing home the bacon, cooking the bacon or cleaning up after the bacon’s been cooked, my Holy Week is off to a pretty meaty start.
And the same can be true for you.
I encourage you to look for opportunities to spend time with God all week long, and I hope you’ll all attend church services on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, so you can experience the spiritual and emotional rollercoaster that took Jesus from the Last Supper to the Empty Tomb.
But if work or family commitments will keep you away from church on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, that doesn’t mean you’re away from God. Lift up your eyes and look for Him in the everyday and the mundane. Holy Week can be as holy as you make it, so give Him a little of that time and see what He does with it. You might be surprised with what He gives you in return.
Peace be with you.
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