Tonight I’d like to say a few words about how we, as Orthodox Christians, approach and spend Holy Week. This should be for us one of the most intense weeks spiritually of Great Lent. There are special services daily, many of them are longer and more involved than we’re used to, even for Great Lent. This week represents historically the oldest of the fasts of the Church – originally the catechumens didn’t have a 40 day fast, but a very rigorous fast during the week before the Resurrection as a preparation for their entry into the Church by baptism. We are walking with the Lord each step during the final week of His active earthly ministry – beginning this morning with the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and ending this weekend with His death on the cross and His repose in the tomb for 3 days.

I heard it said recently that this week should be a somber one – I think I both agree and disagree with that sentiment. It’s somber in that we are preparing to remember the most ridiculous, futile, and heart-wrenching act in all of human history – the murder of God in the flesh. Yet this week is also a week of awe and of wonder, and even of joy. Awe and wonder at the humility of our God, and joy in the realization of His love for us and His fervent desire for our salvation. It is a week of what the Father’s would call “joyful sorrow,” or “joy-making mourning.” We weep, we sorrow, we mourn for our Lord Jesus Christ, for what we as humankind put Him through – the ultimate rejection of His offering of Himself to us. We can’t even imagine how that pained the Lord – for His creation that He loved to turn our backs on Him and to reject Him and to murder Him on the Cross. Yet this weeping is also the source of our eternal joy – as we sing, “through the Cross joy has come into all the world.” Through the Cross salvation was offered to mankind.

So we go through this all important week in the history of mankind’s salvation walking a tightrope between joy and sorrow – falling neither to the right nor to the left. Always remembering what our Lord suffered for us, yet remembering that it was for our salvation, and the cycle of remembering and reliving repeats throughout the whole of Holy Week. May our God preserve us and strengthen us, and grant us the blessing to greet His Holy Resurrection on Pascha night.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Matthew Jackson

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