Why Holy Week Matters: Meeting Jesus at the Table
What does Holy Week have to do with our wired lives? Where can our 24/7 lives intersect with the slow, significant events of Christ’s journey to the cross?
First in a three-part series connecting our everyday lives with scenes from Holy Week: at the table, in the garden, and at the cross.
For centuries, Holy Week was the focal point of the Christian calendar. Six weeks of somber Lenten reflection culminated in a final week in which we gravely contemplated and confessed our sin, awakening on the final morn to the miracle of the resurrection.
Our culture (and the Christian subculture right along with it) tends to make a bigger deal of Christmas than Easter—even to the point of conflict as Christians rally to “keep Christ in Christmas” and mistakenly believe that a benevolent “Happy Holidays” is somehow an affront to faith. (Um, it’s not.)
What about “keeping Christ in Easter” and in the week preceding it? Do we even notice Holy Week, or is it just another work week between Palm Sunday and Easter? Most of us, unless our kids’ spring break coincides with Holy Week, will spend these “holy days” not as holidays, but going to meetings, driving carpools, writing emails and making phone calls, sometimes simultaneously! There’s not much time for contemplation.
Oh, we’ll definitely make it to church on Easter Sunday, and perhaps even on Good Friday, rushing to the service after a long day at work. But will we spend time contemplating events that seem so far removed from our lives and our experience? What does Holy Week have to do with our wired lives? Where can our 24/7 lives intersect with the slow, significant events of Christ’s journey to the cross?
Jesus Wants to Be Part of Your Busy Life
In this short series, we will look at three places where our busy lives can connect with the Holy Week story, and allow us to experience Jesus: the table, the garden and the cross.
Holy Week unfolds like a map: from Palm Sunday’s triumphal entry, to Jesus’ clearing of the temple, his prayer on the Mount of Olives, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial, suffering and death, the agonizing silence of Holy Saturday, and the victory of the empty tomb.
Jesus, the itinerant rabbi, knew what it was like to be busy, to feel pulled in many directions by the needs of people. He didn’t carry a smart phone, but he certainly knew what it was like to be interrupted (which is, most of the time, what your smart phone does). In fact, many of his healings and miracles happened as a result of interruptions (blind men along a road, a woman tugging at his cloak, and so on). His disciples, it seems, also found themselves overscheduled and overwhelmed:
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:30-32)
“They did not even have a chance to eat…” The ancient world lacked McDonalds, so a drive-through wasn’t an option. They had no time to gather around a table, to eat and converse, to rest. This bothered Jesus then, and it bothers him now. He wants us to connect with one another—not just through Facebook, but face to face, around a table. Conversation, a simple meal, eaten slowly—this simple act nourishes and restores not only our bodies, but our souls. And it seems that Jesus and his disciples also had trouble fitting that into their schedule.
Slow Down and Share a Meal
So it’s poignant when the Passover comes that Jesus, despite the pain he knew was just around the corner, was eager to spend time at the table with his friends:
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:14-15)
Jesus takes his time at the table, telling them some encouraging words, and some difficult truth (that they would deny or betray him), but still serving them. John’s gospel says he took time for a selfless act of service, washing their feet (see John 13:12-17). He offered them bread and wine, imbuing them with a new significance. He invites them to “take and eat” and perhaps he invites us to do the same.
During Holy Week, connect with Christ’s experience by taking time for at least one meal, eaten not in your car, or over the sink, but at a table. It need not be elaborate. The point is not how much time you spend preparing it, but how you take your time eating it. Invite family or friends to sit down, to look in one another’s eyes, to speak words of encouragement and truth. Love one another with the gift of unhurried time. It’s a gift Jesus gave his disciples during Holy Week, and a way we can connect with and remember him.
NEXT: In the second installment of this series, we explore how we can connect with Jesus in the garden.
Keri Wyatt Kent is the author of ten books and co-author of six others. Through her writing and speaking, she helps people grow closer to God and live their faith. Connect with her at http://keriwyattkent.com