Walking Our Faith: The endless love of God
From my vantage point on the far left side of the church sanctuary, I had a bird’s-eye view of the pastor and, more importantly, my mother, who was singing in the choir loft with the other altos for the first time in 20 years.
Since mom is 94 years old, this was a big deal not just for her but for the rest of the choir, which was silently cheering her on because mom belonged to the choir for 30 years before retiring.
This Sunday, we enter into Holy Week, the holiest week of the year for Christians. It begins with Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem being hailed as the new king.
“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” — Zechariah 9:9
This sense of triumphal celebration is quickly replaced by the solemnity of Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper.
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ’This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’
“In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ’This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” — Luke 22:19-20
Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus.
“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ’Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” — Luke 23:44-46
Holy Saturday is the vigil.
“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” — 1 Peter 1:18-19, New Living Translation
Easter Sunday is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.” — Matthew 28:5-6, New Living Translation
As a cradle Christian, I have celebrated Holy Week every year of my life. However, it has only been as an adult that the days of Holy Week have taken on greater significance.
As I approach Holy Week this year, I do so not with an attitude of repeating what I have done the year before but looking forward to what God will reveal for the first time about himself.
Last Sunday was part of a celebration for the 60th anniversary of Coral Ridge Presbyterian church’s founding. My mother’s presence in the choir was a living reminder of the church’s legacy.
When we celebrate Holy Week, it is also to pass the legacy of our faith from one generation to another.
For the older Christian, Holy Week with its emphasis on death and rebirth may be seen in a very different way after a year of isolation and loss. The wisdom gathered after many years on this earth gives the older person of faith a deep well to draw from.
For parents with growing families, Holy Week is a time to introduce young children to the foundations of our faith and to begin the long process that will allow the child to embrace the faith.
Last week, I also had the pleasure of listening to Pastor Rob Pacienza preach from Psalm 118. He reminded the congregation that the church had gone through years of expensive growth and years of sad reversal, but he pointed out from the wisdom of Psalm 118 that no matter how the church fared in any given year, God’s love never wavered.
Our circumstances this year may be different than they were a year ago or 10 years ago, but our need to walk this familiar path through each day of Holy Week is unchanged. We need this annual reminder that God‘s love endures forever.
As we embrace God‘s love for us, we release our anxiety that we are not good enough to be loved by God. God promised that there is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from his love. All we have to do is accept that love.
Holy Week is not an old familiar ritual but an annual opportunity to deepen our relationship with God. We know his love is never-ending. It’s a love that provides the space and time we need to rest, heal and grow in God’s sheltering embrace.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” — Psalms 118:29, Christian Standard Bible
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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