As Christians, we are in the middle of Holy Week, that period of time between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. This is unlike any Holy Week we have experienced as a Church. In some circles it has forced people to think more about what we are missing than on what we have. I have read numerous articles expressing the emotions Christians feel by not being able to gather for Easter Sunday, the lost fellowship due to canceled egg hunts and about the creative ways around the social distancing parameters set before us. But one thing this season has allowed me to do is focus more clearly on the historical traditions the Church has adopted during periods of reflection and worship.
We all are familiar with the Biblical events of Palm Sunday and Good Friday. We might have heard about Maundy Thursday and the traps the religious leaders set for Jesus on Tuesday, but what about Wednesday of Holy Week? What was Jesus doing today? Most scholars consider this a day of rest for Jesus because He knew what was coming for Him the next day. Today is the day that a woman named Mary anointed Jesus with expensive oils that caused the disciples to question the wasted resources. Today is the day that Judas set out to “spy” on Jesus, looking for a way to hand Him over to the leaders. Today is the day that the heart of Judas finally went dark. In recognition of this the Western Church began a practice called Tenebrae. In Latin the word tenebrae means darkness. In the tradition, the candles on a special candelabrum are all lit and set before the church altar. One by one, gradually, the minister would extinguish the candles, all except for one. At the conclusion the light of this final candle is not extinguished but hidden so that the church is left in complete darkness. The darkness in the room symbolizes the darkness that can gradually take over a person until there is no light left to be found.
During this time of isolation you might have become more aware of the “darkness” that can come upon a person gradually. Not being able to get to or touch a loved one, not being able to embrace or shake hands leads to a place of loneliness few of us have ever felt before. Satan is using this against us because he knows how important community is to the human soul. The Evil One knew that if he could get Judas away from the group he could capture and destroy him, and that is exactly what happened.
During this period of isolation do not allow the devil to lie to you about the condition of your soul. Take steps to reach out by phone, text or social media for that human contact we all need. Check on people you have not heard from in a while. Who knows what your expression of care during this dark period might do for their soul. Yes, Wednesday was a day of rest for Jesus, and if possible should be for you too. But it was also a day of darkness for others. On this Wednesday before Easter, embrace the good that can come from a forced time of isolation but at the same time do not allow yourself to be gradually consumed by the bad. Turn off the news, get outside, and reconnect with friends you have not talked to in a while. Take something the devil means for evil and allow God to turn it into something good for you and others that you will bring light to today!
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.… Matthew 5:14-15
Serving the Savior
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