As you read this, Holy Week is upon us. For those who may not have grown up with Holy Week as a part of your life, this is the week before Easter, and is without a doubt the most important week in the church year. It is marked by a number of services that lead to the cross on Good Friday. Different churches celebrate Holy Week in different ways. Some, like St. Nicholas, do services every day of Holy Week because it sets that week apart from all other weeks. We hear the events that lead to Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Many would say that without experiencing these services, we have no frame of reference for what Easter really means.
However, the attendance at these services tends to be extremely low. If this is the most important week of the church year, why don’t people participate?
Holy Week is intended to interrupt our lives. When a birth, illness, or death happens in our lives, we drop everything and tend to those things. Holy Week is like that. The events that happen in Jesus’ last days aren’t meant to be a sappy story that we ignore the minute it’s over. Jesus calls his disciples to “take up our cross,” or, in other words, participate in the events that lead to the cross. We may not be willing to die on a cross for the sake of world, but one way the Church invites us to heed Jesus’ words is by letting Holy Week interrupt our lives.
Hey, I know we’re busy, and I especially know that it’s difficult if you’re working, or if you have kids, or if you’re doing something for Spring Break (Harris County schools interrupted their whole schedule for Holy Week this year!). In fact, all of those things apply to me, as well. Here are some helpful tips so that you can allow Holy Week to break into your lives this year:
- If you can’t come to St. Nicholas for our Holy Week services, go somewhere else! We have a geographically large congregation, and driving 30-40 minutes to Hamilton may not be feasible. Find a church nearby your home or work that you can attend.
- If you’re on vacation for Spring Break, go to a local church wherever you are and check out their Holy Week services. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t worship, right?
- If you’re working, use Holy Week as an excuse to leave work at the time you’re supposed to leave. Our Holy Week services are at 6:30pm each night, with those working folk in mind who need extra time to get here.
- If your kids have activities such as sports, music, drama, scouts, or the like, let them miss one week. You can say it’s for religious purposes, and you’ll be surprised how many people will be impressed by your commitment and will ask what church you attend. Invite them to come along! Holy Week = evangelism! It’s also a great time to teach your kids that Easter isn’t all about bunnies and eggs, but about what Holy Week and Easter really mean! (My son Liam recently exclaimed in a casual tone, “When Jesus died on the cross, he was naked, but then he got ‘angel clothes!’”)
- If 6:30 is your dinner time, plan ahead and eat before you come, or pack a snack and eat afterwards. Holy Week is also a good time to plan a meal with church friends. Go out to eat before or after the service and fellowship with one another.
- At least commit to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. I personally come from a tradition where we celebrated Holy Week Monday through Friday. If that’s not doable for whatever reason, the two most important services are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. These services are the most “dramatic” and beautiful. We do things a little differently at each, like washing feet, stripping the altar, and praying the solemn collects.
So make your plans to let Holy Week interrupt your lives for one week only. You’ll be glad you did. Our Holy Week schedule is:
Palm Sunday, April 1, 8:30am & 11:00am
Holy Monday, April 2, 6:30pm
Holy Tuesday, April 3, 6:30pm
Stations of the Cross, April 4, 6:30pm
Maundy Thursday, April 5, 6:30pm
Good Friday, April 6, 6:30pm
Easter Sunday, April 8, 8:30am & 11:00am