Movie of the Week: The Passion of the Christ
Old Testament: Psalm 46
New Testament: Matthew 27:57-66
Music: No music today
I set out to write this devotional guide back in early February. God planted this idea on my heart like a seed, and as I began preparing and brainstorming through the outline and devotional material, it grew quickly and reassured me that this was something from God. From the beginning, my hope was to include a significant amount of material and resources – way more than I ever thought anyone would have time to use. I just wanted to help assemble a deep well for anyone to draw from as they work on their spiritual development during this Lenten season.
I could never have imagined how greatly things would change from the time when I began this project back in February until today. Essentially, our entire society has been shut down for a week as of this moment, and it is impossible to know where things will be by the time you read this. Our entire system has been rattled in such a way and to such an extent that none of us has ever experienced. I sat in a meeting Monday with other pastors discussing the very real possibility that none of our churches would be having an in-person Easter service at our buildings this year – something I never could have imagined as a possibility even a few days ago.
I have to be honest; my Lenten commitments took a huge hit by these unforeseen circumstances. I think that’s understandable, but I still find it immensely disappointing. At the heart of observing the church calendar is an awareness that Christians are citizens of another world. Obviously, it’s all contrived and for us to obsess over these rituals makes us no better than the Pharisees that Jesus constantly rebuked. At the same time, we are always in search of something to help with our discipline, something to help us keep our eyes on the prize. I hope, in some small way, this devotional guide has helped you do that through, what unexpectedly became a very challenging time. Recent events have certainly freed up our schedules, so hopefully having these resources proved to be a welcome distraction through the cacophony of the past two months.
In the end, as Christians, we know “this too shall pass,” but that’s easier to believe sometimes more than others. One of the truly underappreciated parts of Holy Week is Holy Saturday – sometimes called Silent Saturday. Imagine living in that in-between moment of uncertainty and confusion – maybe not that different than the past few weeks have been for us. What’s going to happen next? How are we going to survive this? Where is God in all this? What are we supposed to do next? These were the questions the disciples were asking themselves on Holy Saturday.
Our tendency is to rush from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, but Holy Saturday is an appropriate sabbath before the celebration. Pause in this moment and reflect on the 40-day journey that has brought you to this point. Have you come to see Jesus more fully? How has your faith sustained you through this tumultuous time?
The New Testament sure makes it seem like the disciples weren’t expecting Jesus to return the way he did. Actually, the Bible is full of stories of his people being unexpected. Now it’s our turn to be the unexpected ones. What is God up to? How has Jesus revealed himself to you in the past few weeks? How have you been changed? How has he prepared you for this world that has changed so much since the beginning of Lent? How will this moment change the church moving forward?
You may find this reflection from Max Lucado a helpful example of a final Ignatian imaginative prayer to end your Lenten prayers.
I don’t know about you, but perhaps more than ever before, I am ready for Easter.