Dear Friends in Christ—
This coming Sunday, the gospel will tell us the story of the raising of Lazarus. The lectionary gives us this story on this day, in part, to prepare us for the new life of Easter. It raises a question that is both abstract and practical: what are you doing right now to prepare for that new life?
In our mission statement, we talk about this. We love, proclaim, and serve God, first and foremost, through “life-giving liturgical worship.” We experience resurrection life, here and now, when we pray together, when we sing together, when we share the sacrament, when we come to our nave seeking beauty and truth.
First, in the broader and more abstract vein, are we letting that liturgy do its work? Are we finding new life through our worship?
Father Santi wrote these words to me in an email, and they are worth sharing:
What helps us to find abundant life in our worship? How does that life flow into the rest of our lives? How are our liturgies preparing us for the drama of Holy Week and the joy of Easter? How are they us as parents, and spouses, and siblings, and friends? How are they equipping us for service? How are they teaching us to let go of resentments and to forgive? How are they healing us?
As you prepare for holy week, it is worth reflecting on how your prayers, and the prayers of the church, will be made real in your life.
And second, in the practical vein: are you planning ahead so that you can experience that liturgy?
Although Holy Week contains some of the most meaningful days on the church calendar, the services during that week are often small. They are understandably hard to get to. They are on weeknights when there is work the next morning; they are inevitably during the public schools’ spring break, when many of us travel.
But Easter will only have cheap grace if we do not enter into the mystery of suffering and redemption. Our Easter joy is dependent on our willingness to walk the way of the cross first.
I invite you to look at your heart—but also to look at your calendar. Plan ahead to make time during Holy Week. If you can’t come to Grace, Google a different solution. If you are traveling, take advantage of the opportunity to worship where you are. See what the church near your office is doing at noon on Good Friday.
May the church cooperate with Jesus Christ to bring you new life.
Yours in Christ,