How I miss being a part of our traditional Holy Week services leading up to the most important celebration of the Christian year! I know all of us have missed regular fellowship and worship during more than the past year now. But somehow, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Great Vigil are unique in their significance for our journey toward renewal. As good old Mainers, we will continue to “make do” with the new technology we have been blessed to have and learn. Gratitude abounds for the faithful and creative leaders who continue to provide the glue holding our fragile, yet resilient community together. St. Patrick’s is strong, in whatever new configuration we have been stretched to experience.
And isn’t this challenging change at the very heart of the original community’s experience following Jesus’s killing? Followers were forced to learn a new way.
I have a personal example. During my current illness, I have been forced to open my heart and mind to a new relationship with daughter Katherine, no longer living here with me at the farm, but in a respite care home in the next town. Our forty-odd year relationship has been suddenly torn apart, and I can no longer care for her directly. I am trying to “Let go and let God” show me a new way of being her Dad, now from a distance. I am hoping the change will be good for her maturity and for mine. But new ways come hard.
I have been tempted to imagine this unexpected health crisis in my life to be a miniscule crucifixion. The meaning of this Holy Week is not just to romantically recall the events of Jesus’s life as ancient history of another place and time and person. What is the suffering, passion and journey through which the Spirit may be leading you right now? Each of us is baptized into death and drowning with Jesus, before encountering the empty tomb. Solidarity with loss and suffering in the world is “The Way” of the cross. Our personal experiences are included.
But the story does not end at the Old Rugged Cross. The next fifty days is how long it will take to really hear and accept the women’s hard to believe message that transformation takes place when we seek Jesus. Life for early followers, and for us, is not ended at the cross, but changed at the empty tomb.
Just as mysterious as the new cycle of green Spring growth in the natural world all around us, is the reality of God’s renewing presence in our lives and our community. Love is changing who we are and stretching our faith in the hope of resurrection and an Easter life style.
Blessings to you and your family, Fr. Rick