The days leading up to Easter are known as ‘Holy Week’ in the Christian calendar. There are usually services every day during the week, with Christians from across denomination and church getting together to mark this special week. There are also highlight services – on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday – with the big celebration of Easter on Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus – the sign that God’s love for us transcends death.
This Holy Week will, however, be very different, as due to restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 we will not be gathering in our usual way. But we will be coming together to mark this week. We will come together regularly online for prayer and worship, and we will stop at the same time each day and light a candle and say a prayer – coming together in time even though separated by space – an opportunity to remember that we are not alone. And we will each be putting a changing display in our windows to mark our way through the week, a home liturgy for Holy Week – the picture is the study window in the Rectory on Monday night (and it is intentional that one of the candles is not lit).
In amongst all of the different preparations for Holy Week, preparing PowerPoint and sermons and so on, there is something that I have noticed. During these first weeks of lockdown, though we are isolating ourselves from each other, there is a sense in which we are coming closer together. Hopefully we are becoming more aware of each other’s needs, more mindful of the need to be respectful, more generous, less greedy. Maybe in our solitude, we do spend more time thinking about other people, that we are having more concern for the less fortunate in our communities, those who have lived in isolation for many months prior to the changes the pandemic has caused.
So, these are reasons for hope – and that is ultimately what Easter is about – the hope that the darkness does end, that the risen Son shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome him! Christ is risen….Happy Easter!