The Week Before Holy Week

By Matt Sapp

By Matt Sapp

Holy Week is sneaking up on us. We spend Lent getting ready for Easter, but if we're not careful, we'll let Holy Week get to us without being ready.

Holy Week begins this Sunday. If we’re prepared and engaged, we’ll be carried along by the emotions of the week from the “Hosannas!” of Palm Sunday to the “Crucify Hims!” of Good Friday to the deafening silence of Holy Saturday. And we'll be ready for the miracle that is Easter morning.

But once we get to Palm Sunday the time for preparation will have passed. If we want to REALLY get it this year—if we REALLY want to experience Holy Week for the earth shattering set of events that it is—now is the time to make ourselves ready.

So how do we REALLY prepare for Holy Week? Here are few suggestions for the next few days.

Slow down. Create blank space in your life this week. Let this week be a reminder that nothing is more important than your relationship with your Creator. Leave room this week for God, for family, for prayer, for silence. Start preparing yourself—and your calendar--to experience the holy.

 Focus. What should we focus on this week? We should focus on what it will take to get us all the way to the cross on Good Friday by asking questions like, "How do we prepare ourselves to experience the arrest and trial and death of Jesus? How do we prepare ourselves to engage in God’s suffering? How do we brace ourselves for the humbling experience of God engaging our suffering?" The power of Easter lies squarely in the events of Good Friday. If we don’t make it all the way to the cross, we miss it.

Be aware. When we read the Biblical accounts of Holy Week, we learn that the Jerusalem of the first Holy Week was a place of energy, of almost supernaturally tangible electricity.

So be quiet. Be still. Start to feel the eternal—the infinite—break into our world like a supernatural electricity in the air. Don’t let anything crowd out time to listen for—and begin to feel—God’s presence.

Read scripture. What scripture should we read? Read the prophets (Amos 5, Micah 6, Hosea 6, Isaiah 61). Hear strong words of justice and mercy and salvation. Hear powerful voices proclaim a future that is better than our present or our past.

Read the words of Jesus. Read the parables in Luke and Christ’s teaching in John and the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew.

Hear in the words of the prophets a vision that challenges the current order of things. Hear in the words of Jesus a radical and revolutionary message that consistently calls us to side with the weak and the forgotten over the powerful and the well-connected. Marvel at the courage to speak so boldly, and realize just how powerful words and ideas can be.

This is a week to pray. Pray for forgiveness. Pray for God’s mercy. Pray for justice and righteousness. Pray for courage. Pray for a new vision that allows us to see our world as God sees it. Pray for the coming of God’s kingdom. Just pray. 

And finally, this is a week to be in church

See you Sunday.