First United Methodist Church of Rice Lake
Thursday, April 18, 2019
We are a people called to know and share God's love.

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Shout Out from Susan
Holy Week is More Than Rituals
 
We are turning the corner towards Jerusalem. Soon it will be Palm Sunday and then Easter just a few more days away. Holy Week stirs up all kinds of emotions from joy and celebration as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the sorrow, shock and grief of Jesus’ death on the cross. So much happens during this time as we relive the final week of Jesus’ life. First, we get to sing Hosanna and wave palm branches on Palm Sunday. On Maundy Thursday, we will re-enactment the Last Supper. But then everything turns upside down just like it did for the disciples and Jesus. By the end of the week, Judas betrays Jesus in front of his closest friends, Peter denies ever knowing Jesus and the rest of the followers are hiding in secret. The disciples’ beloved friend and teacher, Jesus has died and leaves their hearts broken. They, of course, have no clue about Easter morning. Nor do they know the importance of Jesus’ death and the impact Jesus has in the world for centuries later and centuries yet to come.
 
One of my favorite weeks of the year is Holy Week. I can read the Bible and learn about the last accounts of Christ’s life on Earth. However, what really impacts me is experiencing the different accounts during the week. I’m a hands-on person, I need to see, hear, taste, smell, touch and feel Holy Week. I am anxious for this year’s Maundy Thursday service where we get to be part of the Last Supper and share in Holy Communion. Then there is Good Friday’s powerful story of how we, too, are symbolically part of his death. Surprisingly, every year I am moved in some way that is unexpected and different from any other year. I guess that is the work of the Holy Spirit, bringing us to the edge of our seats and place of vulnerability to witness to our God who is still speaking and transforming in our lives.
 
However, there is more. In between these bigger events are the quiet moments of anguish, tears, forgiveness and love felt in Jesus’ prayers. During the Passover meal, Jesus shares how much he loves his disciples as he breaks the bread and blesses the juice of the Last Supper. In the garden, Jesus prays that God would remove the coming pain of death. Anguish and tears overcome him. His prayer moves from self to God by accepting God’s will over his own. During his trial before Pilate, Jesus never mumbles a word. He knows that it will not make a difference as their minds were already made up and anything he says will fall on deaf ears.
 
This agony he carries with him to the cross, and we remember his prayer, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). The very first thing Jesus asks of God is forgiveness of humanity. Who but Jesus can forgive us while dying on the cross! An act that ultimately restores the brokenness of humanity with God. By his grace we are justified and made right with God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-11). His prayer continues with a plea for help, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33-34) and as his will and purpose on earth draws near the end, Jesus surrenders, “Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit” (Luke 23:44-46), then ends with “It is finished” (John 19:30), a prayer of acceptance of God’s will and end to his purpose on Earth.
 
The final days and hours of Jesus’ life are filled with prayer for us. Our forgiveness, his gift of grace for us (Today, you will be with me in paradise, Luke 23:39-43), and compassionate love towards his family and humanity. Jesus voluntarily gave of himself so that we may live. You are invited to a spend your lunch time on Good Friday in prayer with Jesus at our prayer stations. It’s a wonderful reminder to us all, to embrace the mixture of emotions and take time to breathe, meditate and reflect on the course of events that ended Jesus life, but also changed our lives forever.
 
My prayer for you is that during Holy week, you will remember the prayers of Christ and not just the rituals. May his words speak to your heart and soul transforming your life and presence here while on Earth. May you find new meaning, depth and new life on Easter morning because of your wilderness journey and experience.
 
Easter Blessings– Pastor Sue