First United Methodist Church

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Holy Week Devotion from Pastor Rachel

Welcome to the week of Holy Week! We have *almost* made it to the end of the story, and so now we begin the holiest of days as we grieve and watch and wait.

In my readings this week, I was sent by my Spiritual Director to an article by a priest and a rabbi. Father Melton and Rabbi Leder talked with the journalist about how to make this Holy Week sacred. Both of our traditions have many of their roots found deep in this week. For our Jewish brothers and sisters, it is the story of the Passover and the deliverance from Egypt that brings healing and transformation in their lives. In our own lives, those of us that follow Jesus, we are celebrating that death is not the end of the story. We celebrate that God, through Jesus experienced the very worst that we could ever experience and so when we go through the worst of the worst, we know that we are not alone. And so both traditions celebrate the work of God in our midst.

But this week is already busy and we might miss out on the joy if we move too quickly. This is an extremely busy week for me, not to mention one of my children being out of school on Friday and Monday, so I have 4 days to get 5 days worth of work done. As a mom, I have taken on the Easter Bunny duties and have baskets to prepare, “Easter-best” clothes to get ready, cookies to make, classroom celebrations to prepare for all while trying to keep my children centered on the fact that Easter isn’t about the Bunny, but the cross. And while chocolate candy is great, abundant life lived with God is much, MUCH better!

All that to say, I don’t want to miss out on where God is already present this week. I invite you to do the same.  One way to not miss the holiness of Holy Week is to slow down and pay attention; notice where God is present. We tend to rush through our days and weeks without stopping to notice the moment-to-moment encounters we have with the living God. Just this morning, I did something out of my normal routine and encountered the gentleness of the checkout clerk at the Dollar Tree. She could have been tired and impatient, even rude, but she was joy-filled and helpful. Then I got to work and headed into the Marcy Chapel to prepare for our Holy Week Chapel lesson for our MSEE Preschool and I encountered a husband and wife that told me that they had just finished praying for the pastors of this church. WOW! In just two short hours, I had encountered God, twice! God is always present, always participating, always surprising.

Now this is just one example, but I am sure you can think of other holy encounters from the last few days. Pay attention to those. They aren’t happenstance or coincidence, they are moments, thin spaces, where God is revealing Godself and showing you more of what the Kingdom of God is like. Maybe you have been more present this Lenten Season. Maybe you have joined a Lenten Small Group and met with new people on similar paths. Maybe you have added something into your spiritual practice or let go of something that was weighing you down or distracting you. Maybe you have deepened your prayer life, or become more generous or worked for justice in a new way. Whatever it is that you have done in this Lenten season, keep going. Keep being present and open and ready.

If you need a few ways to continue to not miss out on where God is present this week, join us for Stations of the Cross from 5-7PM or 8-9PM on Thursday and Friday in the Courtyard. Come and join in an intimate contemporary worship experience for Maundy Thursday or a music driven service of darkness on Good Friday. Whatever you do, come and just BE. Open your heart, and mind and soul to God’s presence within you and then just speak these words, “Come Lord Jesus, Come.”