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Lent and Holy Week

As we could not meet for Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent was somewhat lost in the Alert Level changes. Nevertheless, there have been pointers to this season of Lent in our worship here at church. Lenten worship is simpler, as shown by the absence of flowers in the church and the omission of the “Gloria” from our liturgy. This is a liturgical expression of the popular notion of giving things up over Lent. Through it we contrast the sombre preparation of Lent with the joyous celebration of Easter, “when all heaven breaks loose”. Giving up can also focus our mind on God whenever we wonder why we do not do something. While in the past fasting and giving up was sometimes seen as a particular expression of piety, the main idea behind it is to set aside particular times, to contrast them, so that we experience them more deeply.

The focus on the saving acts of Jesus is particularly strong during Holy Week. We can remember the agony, but also the significance of the Cross, and then also the joy of the Resurrection. Participating in the various events of Holy Week means that we are immersed in the events not only intellectually, but with more of our senses. That is usually done through evocative services. In times past, ministers have sometimes tried to convey the joyous occasion of Easter by telling jokes during the service; however, that rather distracted from the dignity of the occasion and the focus of the Festival. Nevertheless, by allowing ourselves to enter more fully into the occasion, we can also sense something of the joy of the Resurrection at the end of Holy Week. In that way, our celebration of the Eucharist throughout the year can also be more significant.