The Holy Week That Was Not
Photo Credit: https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/how-did-the-notre-dame-cathedral-blaze-start/news-story/0047a8551efcbe8574ff958c5c641904
As a Christian, Easter is the most significant and sacred day on our calendar. My secular Easter activities are limited, some decorations and yes I do share a few treats and send out cards; but in general, what I look forward to are the services of Holy Week – Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter morning.
Kate says that there are some services that should be “no fail” because all the “pastor” has to do is just read the appropriate Biblical passage; like at Christmas. Charles Shultz understood that Linus reciting scripture from Luke Chapter 2 would perfectly capture what Christmas meant and thus created a Christmas classic.
For Easter Week, I want to listen to the story of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12). It feeds my soul to hear “Blessed is He comes in the name of the Lord.” On Good Friday, I want to hear La Siete Palabras, Christ last seven “words” or phrases preached: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46); “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34); “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43); “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46); “Dear Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!” When Jesus saw His mother standing near the cross with the Apostle John, whom He loved, He committed His mother’s care into John’s hands. And from that hour John took her unto his own home (John 19:26-27); “I am thirsty” (John 19:28); and “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Finally, on Easter Sunday, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24: 5-6).
What I do not want to hear on Easter week is that Christ was delayed, on his way to resurrect Lazarus, because of piña coladas, nor do I want to hear that Notre Dame is on fire, or that ISIS has murdered over 250 people on Easter Sunday.
The cover photo, on the Facebook page, for That Is All for Now.com is a picture of me sitting on the balcony of Caribe Hilton, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, facing the ocean, while I write; unbeknownst to me, Kate took the picture, and I am glad she did. That hotel was quite an experience, one that perhaps deserves its own post; there is a brief mention of it in the Archives. http://thatisallfornow.com/?p=4809
However, what I did not write about in 2009 and what you may find odd, for me to bring up on a post about Holy Week 2019, is that at Caribe Hilton proudly advertises that that the piña colada was invented by a bartender, at the hotel, in 1950’s. Now, I am not going to debate the history of the cocktail, I just want to say that there is no way Christ, was sipping piña coladas before going to see Lazarus. Yes, you have read my objection correctly.
For me, Holy Week began, at the Palm Sunday service with a woman standing on the “stage” telling us that they did not have palms for us, but it did not matter because we all had palms, on our hands. She instructed us to greet one another with a palm to palm motion, to which she got a laugh. I did not laugh. I did think, for a quick moment, I wish I had known, I happen to have quite a few palm trees in Florida; I could have provided the church with palms, but the lack of palms, was not because they were unavailable or the church was without means; I could have been at peace with those reasons.
The Palm Sunday service continued with a sermon where the pastor not once, but twice said that before Christ went to pray for Lazarus, Christ was drinking piña coladas.
(If you are not familiar with the powerful and victorious story of Lazarus, in the Book of John, chapter 11, I urge you to take a quick peek. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+11&version=NIV )
The first time the pastor made this comment, I was flabbergasted, yet managed to contain myself, but he got a laugh, so he said it again; by that time, I could not help myself and turned to Kate, who was equally outraged. How could the pastor make such a stupid and insulting comment about Christ; and if the pastor needed to have Christ delayed drinking, on His way to bring Lazarus back from the dead, why in the world would the pastor make reference to a drink that had not even been invented, in the time of Christ? It was a terrible Palm Sunday service – not a single mention of “Hosanna”.
It was on Monday that I clicked on a link, sent by Glenda, which informed me that Norte Dame was on fire. I read the story, hoping it might be wrong, clicked on all of my news sites that I have bookmarked, and finally surrendered, turning on the television, to watch this historic church and iconic symbol of Western Civilization burning. Yes, I cried uncontrollably for too long, and then entertained the horror that would unfold if the fire was an act of terrorism.
Before I could fully process what this church meant to me, my grief was interrupted by the insanity of the “yellow jacket” protest, in Paris; people were upset that French citizens and others, from around the world, were pledging funds to rebuild the cathedral. Honestly, I had to step away and try not to think about what awaits a society that does not value its treasures and at the very least respect, acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifice and work that birthed such a work of art.
I wrote out the rest of the Easter cards, and decided to look forward to the Good Friday service.
Joy truly enjoyed the Good Friday sermon, Kate said it was 50/50, I did not hear a single one of the seven phrases, and missed them all.
We were given Communion to go, literally handed to us in Chinese takeout containers, which also held “visual aids”, like toothpicks that represented the crown of thorns. Oh my heart ached.
On Saturday, I picked myself up, by assembling Joy’s Easter basket. The only Easter basket I know for certain that I ever received, as a child, was one given to me by Aunt Beverly, I do not remember the basket, but she has told me about it, and I very much believe her. Since moving to New England, Kate and I have tried to have very special Easter treats, usually collected in the weeks before Easter, on our travels, for the Gregan’s and Dieterle’s, but I have never given Joy an Easter basket. Thus I decided I would make Joy an Easter basket, and not just with sweets. Unfortunately, the Easter basket was not enough to salvage the day.
Easter Sunday, the pastor took the stage, in shorts, and literally said: Ladies, keep your eyes up here. It took every ounce of self-control not to walk out of church. He was getting ready to baptize someone in water, and thus was wearing shorts. The lack of reverence and blatant vulgarity was all but unbearable. I turned to Kate and asked her what she thought God must be thinking of us.
We came home dejected and soon learned about the massacre in Sir Lanka. How in the world could that have happened? Why? Why do people feel the need to shed the blood of the innocent? How does murdering strangers who are worshiping the Lord or vacationing with their families or simply doing their job make someone else feel holy?
I was ready for Holy Week to end. The only thing left on my Easter agenda was three undelivered Easter Baskets, which still sat in my office. I took them into the dining room and placed them around my wooden bunnies, along with a little plaque for my niece, who is entirely unmaterialistic, and thus I worry about giving her things she will not want.
Well, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to behold; it was three days post Holy Week when I finally got my Easter miracle.
My nephew had told me he wanted a stuffed Pooh, and then a week later changed his mind, and said he wanted Eeyore. We had taken a quick trip to New Jersey during Holy Week, where I found a Disney store and was able to buy stuffed animals for the Easter baskets. I debated between Pooh and Eeyore, finally buying both, deciding I would let him choose; for good measure, I picked up a Piglet, along with the toys for the other two baskets.
Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, I found myself the recipient of a much needed miracle; not only would we be spending the day with my niece and her children, as planned, but we would be graced with visitors who were enchanted by Pooh and Piglet – I had two extra stuffed animals – for two little sets of happy hands!
I am still saddened by the state of “my” church, I am still upset about Notre Dame, I am still shocked by the attacks in Sir Lanka, and now grieving the attack on Passover in Poway, but if Holy Week is about anything, it is about hope. My visitors on Wednesday brought me hope, thank you, and That Is All For Now.