I won’t lie: 6 a.m. is tough. As those who were at Morning Prayer this morning can attest, my voice is still scratchy, my words come slowly, my thoughts don’t focus. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus finds his disciples slumbering in Gethsemane, “sleeping for sorrow.” Even they are one up on me; I’m more likely to be sleeping just for tiredness.
And yet. There’s something about the quiet drive to church, the dimly lit sanctuary, the creak of the pew as I settle in. There’s something about the ancient words of scripture and prayers and the quiet periods of stillness and reflection. There’s something about this discipline of prayer that is at once personal and communal that makes me set the alarm early and will my feet to the floor when it goes off well before daylight. I think that something is the fact that, for reasons I don’t fully know, God chooses to meet me in unique and powerful ways in these bleary-eyed early mornings.
I’m grateful to have these opportunities for prayer and worship as we journey through this Holy Week. In yesterday’s collect for Palm Sunday, we asked God to “mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of Jesus’ suffering, and also share in his resurrection.” It’s an audacious prayer, frighteningly bold on both counts. But one of the gifts of the church is its rich tradition of Holy Week services that guide us through Jesus’ last days — a kind of road map through that daunting prayer. From the quiet mornings in the beginning of the week, through the mounting intensity of the last supper (Maundy Thursday) and the crucifixion (Good Friday), on through the dramatic proclamation of Saturday’s Great Vigil and the joyful triumph of Easter Sunday — it’s a profoundly powerful journey. And it’s one that never fails to open my heart in new ways to the unspeakable goodness of the Gospel.
I hope you’ll join me on that journey this week. Set your alarm early, or make a change in your usual evening routine. Choose to follow Jesus in the way of his suffering. I think you’ll find that your “Alleluia!” will be that much more joyful when we reach the empty tomb on Sunday morning.
- Tuesday — 6 am — Morning Prayer
- Wednesday — 6 am — Morning Prayer
- Maundy Thursday — 7:30 pm — Eucharist and Footwashing
- Good Friday — 12:00 – 3:00 pm — Church is open for prayer and the liturgy of reconciliation
- Good Friday — 7:30 pm — Seven Last Words of Christ
- Holy Saturday — 8:30 pm — Great Vigil of Easter
- Easter Sunday — 8:30 and 10:00 am — Holy Eucharist