Peet DickinsonI saw an ad for UPS the other day that said, “We (heart) logistics.” I’m glad someone loves logistics. I, on the other hand, am quite overwhelmed and wearied by logistics. What can “Brown” do for me? Help me figure out how to fit all my logistics in? And then comes Holy Week. This is what I do, and even I struggle to figure out how to fit this momentous week all in. We have nine different services at the Cathedral from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. So, is this just a tradition that we do because it’s what we do? Are we making it too hard on ourselves? Why should I fit it all in? How do I manage all the logistics of this week among all the other logistics of life?

Maybe you have other questions about Holy Week and why we walk this logistically complicated path of passion year upon year. I was forwarded a piece by a fellow Anglican pastor that he sent out to his congregation. Seth Cain is the pastor of Village Church (Anglican) in Greenville, SC, and his flock had several questions about Holy Week that I figured many of us could also be asking. I loved his take on Holy Week, and with his permission, I thought I’d pass this piece along to you.

Ultimately, I think the real question we need to ask is this: Is Holy Week made up of logistics we need to fit in or is it actually that which helps us orient all the other logistics of life?

Thank you to the Reverend Seth Cain for his very helpful insights.

 

Wait! Why Are We Doing This?!

By Seth Cain

 Why so many services?

Because it’s Holy Week – our worship pinnacle – one week out of 52 that is set apart in our calendar to come together in anticipation, humility and heightened worship. But the Cains feel it, too. It’s different and demanding. The overwhelming majority of Christians around the world are doing what we are (and more), some of them walking many miles several times per week to be a part of a special season. Not simply out of duty, but in anticipation. We do well to consider them.

But I feel pressure.

Don’t. But also… do.

These services are obviously elective and no one is more or less spiritual if they participate or not. Not a soul in our church can rightfully presume to know all the details of your life, schedule or your perspective. But if you feel some discomfort in setting aside this much time to worship, especially at Easter, then it’s probably because you are being inconvenienced and interrupted. I hate to be interrupted. Also, I will be the first to admit that I feel little or no tension in setting aside significant time and expending considerable effort for my hobbies, trips, exercise, favorite media or projects, some of which are very time-consuming or require harder work than is customary. But at least it’s on my time. I think we all have to ask ourselves why we are easily inconvenienced by spiritual disciplines such as entering into what’s often called “God’s time” – a liturgical year (and week) that comes around without our control – and yet foster a different standard for this than our other commitments. Does our faith often get the leftovers? Do we subject it to our high ethic of expedience? And is that because we see it as more of an ideology than a whole new life? Or an individual exercise more than a corporate one? Let’s explore that (together).

I’m uncomfortable with this foot washing thing.

Me, too. Honestly? Very. And no, washing feet isn’t a cultural norm these days like it was in Jesus’ day. But know this: Jesus was not supposed to be washing anyone’s feet and it was deeply uncomfortable to have the rabbi washing his disciples’ feet (See Peter’s response). Uncomfortable for them and super humbling for him. And that’s the point – then and now. The Master became the servant. But again, this is an elective service. Some people will love it and some will just not be able to get comfortable doing it. Some are very private and this sounds like a nightmare. That’s ok.

It feels like a lot of work.

The world doesn’t yield for Holy Week. Your job schedules don’t change (any more). Schools don’t yield (any more). But Christians have always yielded. Yes, it is definitely more work than we are used to, especially since we don’t have our own building. That’s why we’re trying to share the load to make this Holy Week really special. We have some wonderfully creative volunteers who are ensuring we do this with a simplicity that matches the size and resources of our church. We hope you will be one. Can I ask you to deeply consider what feels so hard about this to you? And to graciously talk to one another about it? And can we do a hard thing together for the glory of God?

Is all this really necessary?

No. But also… yes.

Suffice it to say, you can skip it entirely and your faith remains secure. Checking a box is not the point of Holy Week, anyway. Or any Sunday, for that matter. Don’t do it out of duty. Or do. Virtually every generation of Christians before us believed duty had an important role in discipleship. It’s all over the Bible. It doesn’t redeem you, but it’s often what redemption looks like when following Jesus gets hard. Duty & commitment govern love when the butterflies stop fluttering. They govern parenting when it’s hard. They rightly govern virtually everything else at times.  Know this, friends: Hearts are not simply persuaded by information. That’s rationalism and the church gets mileage out of it, unfortunately. Instead, hearts are trained by practice and even by interruption and inconvenience, such as this. Often through suffering. No, it’s not necessary. But that depends on what necessities you feel.