Prioritize Corporate Worship During Passion Week
Looking back at any point of history and lamenting that we are no longer in that place or that "things have changed" can be an dangerous exercise and a rut that our minds can get stuck in. It can cause us to romanticize the past, elevating the romantic in a way that glosses over the deficiencies.
But, one thing that was more normative in the past that I think we can all agree has changed, and not for the better, is the simple act of "Stopping" or at least "slowing down".
We have no time to stop. There's work to do. The little notification on my phone told me so. The portability of work tells me the tired line (that I know is a lie but I fall for it anyway) that if I "just do a bit more of this, then I can get out ahead of tomorrow's work, and feel like I have gotten ahead a bit"
Well, it doesn't work like that. Tomorrow will be full of unexpected challenges that get in the way of our "progress" seemingly erasing the efforts made toward "getting ahead". It's almost like Jesus told us that tomorrow was going to have its own fresh set of issues, so trying to cram tomorrow into today goes against a universal law.
No matter how much we try, we can't conquer tomorrow. We've learned to conquer nature, space, the ocean deep. But tomorrow will always be a mystery.
That is why it saddens me that the promise of future work can often get in the way of resting today. I am as guilty (or more) than most in this.
At one time, the Passion Week was generally accepted as a time where society slowed down and had a time of reflection. I am not trying to get into whether we were a "Christian nation" or "just how Christian the people really were". "That is folly...chasing after the wind", to quote Solomon. Jesus made it pretty clear that a national observance does not change an individual heart.
BUT, that doesn't mean that there was not value to slowing down during this most important of weeks. To take in the reminders around us. To even change or adapt our priorities to allow for extra time for worship, reflection and to return to the place of awe that is so easy to drift from.
Redeemer, like many other churches around the world, will have extra opportunities to gather for reflection, worship and celebration. I am suggesting that you make time for it. We have people who do not go to Redeemer who read our blogs or listen to our sermons, so this is not a Redeemer thing. If you are a member at a different body and just reading through this- take advantage of extra opportunities to gather with your brothers and sisters in Christ and WORSHIP! If your church does not have those opportunities- create them!
Go out to a worship service, have someone over your home, meet together, look at what the Scriptures have to say about the mighty accomplishments of our Lord Jesus that took place during this week, and stop and thank Him!
I know the arguments: "Hey, shouldn't we appreciate the accomplishments of Jesus 365 days a year and not just around Easter?" or "Isn't Easter a pagan holiday that the church created back in blah, blah, blabity, blah..."
To the first question- shouldn't you appreciate your family members 365 days a year? Why do we need to make a big deal of them on their birthday? Shouldn't they just know that they are appreciated? Why do we need to come together just to make a point out of the person feeling appreciated?
Sounds kind of weird doesn't it? Of course we appreciate the person throughout the year. But of course we don't let the opportunity pass without taking time to show appreciation.
In terms of the pagan holiday thing, that one always puzzled me. In the Bible, there are warnings about taking things that are sacred and making them unholy or profane. That makes sense.
But the Bible does not warn people about taking something that is unholy and profane and making it sacred.
Isn't that the point of the Gospel? Isn't that what Jesus did for us? He took something unholy and made it holy. He took something profane and made it set apart. He took something secular and made it sacred. Isn't that what Jesus is doing as He restores and recreates through the Gospel?
And couldn't we all use a reminder to just stop and slow down and worship? These days are not sacred or holy because of anything about the day itself being sacred. The Bible is clear on that. No, what JESUS HAS DONE at the cross, leading up to the cross and the resurrection following the cross- that is what is sacred. The days on the calendar are merely reminders to stop and reflect on those most sacred and precious of truths.
So, as we approach this week between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday: this week we know as Passion Week, take in the reminders. Stop. Slow down. Worship. Reflect. Take what would be an otherwise random Thursday or Friday and stop, clear your schedule and worship.
Here are some opportunities here at Redeemer, but wherever you are, plan to slow down, worship, enjoy, taste and see that He is Good and that HE IS RISEN INDEED!