What Is Holy Week?
Contents provided by our sister church, Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, IL
If you have never gone through Holy Week, you may be wondering: “Why is this week different from all other weeks?” During Holy Week, the church journeys with Jesus through the final moments of his life, his death on the cross, and his resurrection of from the grave. We witness the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) By his blood God has delivered us from the slavery of sin and death and has brought us into the fullness of his promise that we, too, might share in his resurrection (Phil. 3:10-11)
Holy Week invites each one of us to go on pilgrimage: to journey with Jesus through the gates of Jerusalem, to eat with him and hear his commandment to love one another, to stay and watch with him in the garden, to accompany him on the way to Calvary, to be present at his death, and to dance for joy at his resurrection.
Holy Week comprises five major services that have been celebrated since the early days of the church. To journey with Jesus, to be present with him here this Holy Week, is a pilgrimage that will change us.
On Palm Sunday we join the crowds waving palm branches and singing “hosanna” to Jesus as an earthly king, perceiving his glory in worldly terms based on our own human experiences and expectations.
By the time Maundy Thursday arrives we begin, with the disciples, to see Jesus with different eyes. He is the Christ revealed to us in humility as the embodiment of God’s love.
To be present at the cross on Good Friday, even as Mary and John were, is to finally see Jesus’ glory in God’s terms. He has won for us the victory over sin and death. His sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins has made the saving power of his blood eternally present to us.
On Holy Saturday, we recount the ancient stories of how God has saved his people in ages past, with the assurance that Christ has not abandoned us to sin and death, but is coming to save us.
On Easter Sunday we participate in the glory of God’s victory over sin and death as we “hasten to see the stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself.” Christ is risen—and we are raised with him into the newness of eternal life.
Let this Holy Week be your invitation to set your countenance on Jerusalem and, like Jesus, to journey to the Passover feast. Let us experience the remembrance of God’s saving deeds and encounter firsthand the power of the crucified and risen Christ to save and heal us.
"The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'"
"that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead."