This is Holy Week
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Whatever else you may do this week make time to read Psalm 22. Read it slowly and aloud. Ponder these words written so long ago, yet words which speak so clearly to us today.
Jesus grew up learning the Psalms by heart. Their poetry contains everything we know. Rejoicing and thanksgiving, love and friendship, celebration and feasting. And the other side of life as well. In the Psalms you will find agony, anger, bewilderment, frustration, grief and bitter tears. The writers of the Psalms knew God well enough to know that sometimes we rail at him in fury. And he listens.
There are many this week who will taste desolation. Those who lose loved ones, who may die alone with no family at their side. Those who cannot attend the funeral of a friend, and I know what that feels like this week. Those who come home from work exhausted, fearful for themselves or their family. Those who see years of work building a livelihood swept away. Those who feel imprisoned in their home without human touch for – well who knows how long?
Our churches are closed, yet the church is not. This holy week we mark key events that are the foundation of who we are. Jesus met with his friends to share a Passover meal. We cannot meet, we sense the bereavement of that loss. But it reminds us not to take this communion for granted.
Behind that supper was the story of the Passover, a time of sickness and death when the people marked their houses so that they might be passed over. Walking round the lanes I notice houses also marked, with rainbows for our NHS. Beyond the supper lay arrest, betrayal, denial, and death. Lives were shattered. Our world was changed.
Christianity is an uncomfortable faith. God is not convenient or safe or happy ever after. We know God through the vulnerability of a baby born out of place. We meet God in brokenness – take this, remember me. We know God when we allow him to kneel at our feet with water and a bowl. And we must allow him. We understand God only when we weep in the dawn and he speaks our name.
These events shape what it is to be the church. I am trying each day to ring people for a conversation. It brings to light the water and bowl life of the church. People sharing food, collecting prescriptions, passing on a bottle of bleach or hand sanitiser. I collected 7 bags for the Foodbank and dropped them off at the distribution centre. Delivering parcels for the Foodbank I heard through an open door as I walked down the path the voice of a little lad, very excited, “I’ve got an Easter egg. An Easter egg! I’ve never had an Easter egg!”
It is getting hard to ring people. Phone lines are becoming more and more engaged. People are ringing each other. Speaking to someone they know who is on their own. The instinct to reach out and support is strong. The desire to look out for someone else is powerful. It is how we will endure this time.
There are many who this holy week will know desolation. But they will never be forsaken.
The Revd Canon Paul Dawson