Our Lenten journey has followed Jesus’ actions and practices as He infused life to the sick and conquered powers of chaos and evil; as He mourned and rejoiced; as He demonstrated self-giving love to His disciples; as He spun stories that revealed the values of the Kingdom; and as He proclaimed the in-breaking power of God to make all things new.

About midway through the account of Jesus’ life and ministry in Luke’s Gospel we read, “when the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Jerusalem was the location of the dramatic events in the final week of Jesus’ life that led to His crucifixion. This verse in Luke marks a pivotal moment in Jesus’ own life, for it is here that we see Him willingly and obediently turning toward the cross as His final destination. As we have followed Jesus’ journey this Lenten season, so our own journeys find us gathering with Him in Jerusalem, our faces turned toward the cross.

As we approach Holy Week, we will continue to follow Jesus as He breaks bread and feasts with His followers; as He prays through the darkness of night and the cold breaking of the dawn; and as He shoulders His cross toward the Hill of the Skull. In this Passion drama there is disappointment and abandonment, but there is also love. There is the shattering of hopes and there is rejection, but there is also loyalty and adoration. There is anguish, fear and betrayal.  There is the haunting crow of the rooster outside the fire-lit courtyard; there is the swell of blood as thick thorns are pushed into Jesus’ brow; there is the pounding of nails, and the rasping breaths, and the final prayers. There is failure, sorrow, grief, and death.

And in all of this, there is opportunity for us to draw near to Christ, to identify with His sufferings and to express gratitude for the immensity of His sacrifice. Like the disciples in the garden, we are invited to remain near the Lord as an act of love and devotion to Christ. Even to the cross, Jesus invites us to follow. Let us gather at the cross, then, and remember that Christ’s victory over death came at great cost. Let us remember that without the tragic events of Holy Week there is no Resurrection.

In an effort to remember and retell this Passion drama, each weekday of Holy Week from 12:15-12:45 pm, First Pres offers a contemplative service called SPACES. SPACES engages participants through Scripture and prayer, guided meditation, and creative and sensory experiences. First Pres also observes Maundy Thursday, a service of darkening shadows in which we celebrate the Lord’s Supper and remember Christ’s command to His disciples to love one another with the same self-giving love He demonstrates on the cross. First Pres also celebrates Palm Sunday on April 9, and the Easter Celebration of the Resurrection on April 16, at our usual times of 8:45 am and 11:00 am. For more on Holy Week services, visit our Holy Week page.

Peace of Christ,