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Every Week Is Holy Week

by The Rev Beth Knowlton on March 29, 2023

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
—Collect for Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Within the past 24 hours, I have heard of a friend who just participated as part of his regular work in yet another active shooter drill at the elementary school where he works. I have heard of a grandmother who had her cell phone number entered into a six-year-old’s phone in case something happened during school hours. I have been in touch with a colleague who has been forever changed by the experience of ministering to a town ravaged by a brutal school shooting. All as we have once again tried to absorb yet another school shooting, this time in Nashville, Tennessee—three children and three adults who went from a school assembly to unspeakable horror.

I did not grow up having active shooter drills in my elementary school. I remember seeing old black-and-white pictures of students hiding under desks as part of nuclear bomb drills and feeling relieved that such exercises were no longer necessary. That level of fear or terror was not part of my lived experience. Now all of us know children who regularly participate in such drills. We know staff members who work in those settings. And we also know that this kind of violence is not limited to schools. No place is out of reach, including our religious communities or places we regularly occupy as we go about our daily lives.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of these events is that we feel so powerless to stop them. We are still shocked that what started out as a happy morning singing “Amazing Grace” in chapel became bathed in tragic and gruesome death. We are caught once again in a state of disbelief. But, if we are honest, we shouldn’t be shocked. Horrified, yes. Disgusted, yes. Moved to act, yes. But surprised?

We must as people of faith be willing to see the world as it really is, with all its horror, and still be courageous and hopeful enough to work towards new life. But to get to a place of hope means we must be willing to endure that suffering and walk the hard journey to resurrection. Resurrection does not allow avoidance; it requires we see death and trust that it is not the final word.

Our Holy Week liturgies connect that suffering to the dream God has for us. Palm Sunday is not an abstract reenactment of a past experience. It is the realization that joyful shouts of Hosanna, which means literally “save, please,” turn to “crucify him” in a Nashville classroom. These are not easy truths. But we follow the one who revealed them to us so we do not have to endure them alone.

Easter is coming as it comes with the promise of each sunrise. I hope you will deeply engage in these powerful services this year, not to avoid the world, but to be strengthened to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world.

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