I hope and pray that you are all well and staying safe as much as is possible. What a strange and different Holy Week this will be! And yet, those who lived through that long-ago, first Holy Week experienced some similar things to what we are living through. On Thursday night, after Jesus shared his last supper and went to the Garden of Gethsemane where he was arrested, the disciples ran off in various directions. We can well imagine their fear and anxiety, asking themselves: Am I next? Will they come for me, next? I wake up every day relieved that I have no sore throat or fever, yet…but wondering, am I next? Will it come for me next? And I worry about our congregation, community and world and pray for you all. Every Holy Thursday when we strip the altar, we remember how Jesus was stripped of his garments, of every comfort and then, of life itself. This year we also feel the loss of so much that is being stripped away in our own world and lives. On Friday near the cross, a handful of women stood around. We’re told that Peter was there, at a distance. A distance born of fear like the one that keeps us apart today. Our usual Easter Sundays are filled with crowds and choirs, lilies and sweets. This Easter will be different, but not so different from that first Easter. There were no crowds or choirs or lilies or sweets. There was a handful of women at the tomb and later, a frightened group of disciples hiding behind locked doors. And later, two disciples walking away from the big city of Jerusalem to the little village of Emmaus, as many have fled our own city. But on that first Easter, all the fear was transformed by the joy of Jesus risen from the dead, the promise that fear, betrayal and death are never the end of the story. That is the heart of Easter that nobody and nothing can strip away. New life is on the horizon. And so we sing, this year as well, Hallelujah! Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed Hallelujah! The church often speaks of walking with Jesus through Holy Week in his final days. This year, let’s think instead of Jesus walking with us and gently leading us forward to what the spirituals call that “Great Gettin Up Morning,” when we will all come out of our tombs. In the mean time, I invite you to join our Holy Week worship from wherever you are. On the back of this letter, you will find a little information about each day. Please share it with others you know who might like to tune in and join our Holy Week journey. Since we are unable to receive most offerings in the usual way, if you would like to make an Easter offering, and you are able to, there’s an envelope enclosed. Or you can give electronically at: http://tinyurl.com/GiveToTLCofNYC.
Most of all, believe in how beloved you are and all the God has given and is giving to you. +Pastor Heidi