My favorite Christmas movie of all-time is the movie, Elf. In the movie, Will Ferrell plays a man who was raised as an elf in the North Pole. At one point, Will Ferrell’s character is standing in the toy department at Gimbels Department Store when the manager suddenly announces that Santa will be there the next day to meet the children.
“Santa!” Will Ferrell shouts exuberantly, jumping up and down like a four-year-old. “Santa is coming!”
That is how I feel when Holy Week is coming.
Every year, Christians around the world celebrate Holy Week, following the events of Jesus’ life during his last days and hours on earth. It begins with Palm Sunday when we lay our palms in Jesus’ path as he enters Jerusalem as our Savior King. Then on Maundy Thursday, we follow Jesus to the Upper Room where he celebrated the Passover with his disciples for the last time and gave the Lord’s Supper for the first time.
On the Friday we call Good, we sit in somber silence as we see our Savior die in the darkness, suffering our pain and our punishment in our place. We then return on Sunday dressed in white to celebrate with lilies and song the fact that he lives and, because he lives, we too will live.
Every day of Holy Week is unique. Every worship service is special. The music, the symbolism, the truths proclaimed in those services lead us on a rollercoaster of emotions and self-examination.
I love Holy Week. I can’t wait for Holy Week to get here every year. I feel like Will Ferrell when Santa Claus was coming.
But most people aren’t like me. I mean, sure, Holy Week is nice. It’s important, but they don’t get excited about it. They don’t spend weeks getting ready like they do for Christmas. Sure, people get excited about Easter, but the rest of the week is somewhat of a drag.
I compare it a little to weddings and funerals. Christmas is like a wedding. Holy Week is like a funeral. Christmas is a celebration. Holy Week is somber and somewhat sad. Christmas is about birth. Jesus dies at the end of Holy Week.
This week, though, ask your pastor or priest which he would rather conduct – a wedding or a funeral. I can guarantee you that every one of them will say a funeral. Why? Because though weddings are nice, everybody gets distracted with all the preparations and decorations and dresses. God and his promises get lost somewhere in the shuffle of cakes and flowers and bridesmaids. In many ways, the same is true for Christmas. The true message of Christmas often gets lost in the hustle and bustle.
Funerals, however, are different. At funerals, people are hurting. They yearn for the comfort God offers in his promises. Death has a way of laser-focusing our hearts and minds on what is really important. Holy Week does that. Holy Week turns our thoughts away from the distractions of this world to the most basic and important truths of our faith.
We are sinners who deserve hell. God loved us so much he became one of us to suffer our punishment in our place. Because Jesus suffered the horror and humiliation we deserve, God forgives us every one of our sins – no matter how great or grievous the sin. But Jesus didn’t stay dead. He conquered death and gives eternal life to all those who believe in him.
Holy Week helps us remember what is really important. It helps us appreciate what our awesome God did for us in his amazing grace. Holy Week is what the Christian faith is all about.
So celebrate Holy Week. Make the most of every worship service available to you. Each service unique. Each service is special. Take time this week to quietly remember what Jesus did for you in his great love.
Isn’t it exciting? Holy Week is coming!