Thursday, April 05, 2012

Holy Week and Transformation

I'm in a nostalgic mood this morning thinking about Holy Week services of my past. 

I grew up in a Presbyterian church in San Antonio where the tradition was that the youth were confirmed as part of the Maundy Thursday service. In those days children and youth did not participate in communion until after confirmation so I took my first communion on a Maundy Thursday at the same time I was confirmed as a member of the church. Little did I know at that time how important a step that would be for my journey in life!

One Good Friday when I was in college the service consisted entirely of listening to the sound track of Jesus Christ Superstar which was then a mega-hit on the Broadway stage. The congregation departed into the bright sunny day in silence at the conclusion of the presentation with the refrain "Jesus Christ Superstar, do you think you're who we say you are?" Now I am sure: yes, He does.

Many years later I took a small group of young adults from our church to view The Passion of the Christ on Good Friday. This graphic depiction of the crucifixion and resurrection made a powerful impression on all of us. As Protestants we weren't used to thinking about the suffering of Christ as our church emphasized the joy and triumph of the resurrection. Afterwards we went to dinner together and unpacked the experience over margaritas and nachos with an intimate, meaningful conversation about how the experience deepened our understanding of the atonement of Christ.

A couple of years ago at the end of the Good Friday service the pastor brought in a live lamb and held it in his arms at the close of the service. He invited the congregation to come forward, lay their hands on the lamb and turn over to Jesus, the Lamb of God, all of their grief and sin. 

Last week at Bible study one of those who participated in doing so told us that she went up that day and turned over her grief about the tragic death of her young adult daughter from cancer. She said that she felt enveloped in light and heard her daughter's voice telling her "Mom, I'm okay." Now she continues to grieve, but not without hope and confidence in the promise of the resurrection of Christ.

As Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter observances are celebrated this week lives will be touched and transformed. Maybe even your life and mine.