Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
from Hebrews 12:1-3; appointed for Wednesday in Holy Week
I woke up this morning with the tune to the African American spiritual “Walk Together Children” going through my mind. I sang it years ago in choir, but it is especially relevant to Holy Week. It tells us to walk together, sing together, pray together, and work together…and not to get weary. I suspect most of us are weary, but that would have been true in the context of this text also. So I hear it as encouragement, not judgment. We are weary, but we have also persevered. This past Sunday felt so joyful as we gathered in Travis Park, donkey and bagpipes in place. Hosannas—which made the turn once we were inside and became the assembly calling for the death of Jesus.
This Wednesday in Holy Week, we are called to remember the great cloud of witnesses alongside whom we also walk, sing, pray, and work in our faith journey. These powerful liturgies of the Triduum, Maundy Thursday through Easter Day, are meant to be a walk we take with one another and all those who have gone before. The words are timeless, and the rhythms are grounding. I suspect that, amid our weariness, the need to be once again grounded in the foundations of our faith and community are all the more important. Because ultimately we cannot persevere without one another. We commit to walk together so we can remind each other of the joy that awaits.
Christian joy is not the same as happiness. Joy is about claiming the promise even when you are weary. It is allowing the energy of the gathered community to infuse your very soul, so that you feel nurtured and restored. Our worship models all the lines of the spiritual. We walk in, we sing, we pray—the very meaning of the word liturgy is “work of the people.” So come and gather this week and be reminded of the great promise we have in the resurrection; it is the source of our joy and our hope.
I am also grateful for so many who make these services possible and for the faithful witness of our staff and so many volunteers: the choirs, altar guild, ushers, greeters, readers, and Eucharistic ministers, just to name a few. We all walk together. I promise if you enter fully into these days, your Alleluia on Easter Day will be filled with the promise of new life. I suspect the food in Gosnell Hall might even taste better—and we already know it’s going to be delicious!