This is the time in the year to remember the passion of Jesus. When we say the “passion” of Jesus, we mean his sufferings. For almost the entire length of the year Christians practice an Easter faith, a faith that celebrates the risen Jesus and his presence with us. But at this time, while we anticipate that Easter moment where we joyfully announce “He is Risen”, we first slow down a little and remember the whole story. It has often been said that Mark’s gospel is “a passion narrative with a long introduction”, meaning that what occupies the most significant space in Mark’s written remembrance of Jesus is his final week in Jerusalem, specifically the final hours of his life. Almost one third of Mark’s gospel is focused there, and the rest of it is preparation and anticipation. The other gospels very much follow Mark in this design: everything focuses towards the final week of Jesus and his journey to the cross. Of course, on the third day after his crucifixion the gospels explode with the announcement of the resurrection. But they don’t move us there without an immersion in the whole story, the story of suffering and loss, of rejection and abandonment and cruel injustice. The gospels slow us down a little, making us pay attention.
This Sunday begins the Christian tradition of Holy Week, that space in our calendar where we remember the events of Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem, the events which lead to his crucifixion and resurrection.
I would like to encourage you to consider changing up your rhythms this week, intentionally setting aside time and space to interact with this story, getting into all its parts and meanings. I feel like a nagging teacher for what I am about to say, but I need to say it again: pay attention. Pay attention to the story of Jesus’ final week, pay attention to the meanings you will find there, pay attention to how your life can be remade and reinterpreted because of Jesus.
This next week at Westside we are paying attention. This Sunday is “Palm Sunday”, the moment of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, the moment which begins the countdown to Easter. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week, we invite you to visit the Stations of the Cross in our west hall, open from 9 am to 9 pm daily. This is a traditional Holy Week exercise for Christian pilgrims, an opportunity for spiritual introspection, and a way to experientially engage the story of Jesus. The stations teach us that faith requires personal participation, a “paying attention” if you will.
On April 2 we will be holding a special Good Friday service at 10:10 am. Our Easter services will be on Sunday, April 4 at our regular times, 9:29 and 11:11. But it all begins this Sunday with the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. See you Sunday.