Holy Week Reflections Post 1 – Began the Week Feeling Like Good Friday, Anxious For …

I’m entering Hoy Week with a heavy heart. The heaviest of my burdens is the grieving the loss of our uncle Anwar Ghali. I’ll offer a more appropriate eulogy another time but I had two thoughts running through my head this Palm Sunday:
1. I don’t feel like cheering the triumphal entry of Jesus. I’m tired, I’m saddened, I’ve even fighting a cold.
2. I’m glad it’s Holy Week. It’s going to finish with the Resurrection story and I look forward to getting there.

Of course, the Church celebrates the Resurrection every Sunday we gather. In our New Testament readings, I’ve already read the Resurrection accounts except for John’s which I like to save for Holy Week. And while this will be our first Easter here at Grace, I’m anxious to celebrate the truth that we worship a risen Savior. Yeah, I actually believe this stuff.

A number of things ran through my mind as I was sitting in between my dad and brother at the St. Minas Coptic Orthodox Church in Holmdel, NJ. If you’ve never been in a Coptic Church, I have to tell you they’re very ornate and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. Perhaps the first think you notice is that smell of incense, then you are met with the instruction that men and women sit on opposite sides. There is a lot of beautiful iconography and though these types of sanctuaries are hard for Western Protestants to appreciate, I think most would agree that the room is worshipful which is the final question when it comes to sacred spaces.

I was most grateful that the LCD screens including English translations of the readings of Scripture and creeds. Frankly, since my Arabic and my understanding of Coptic liturgy is quite limited, it’s a blessing to participate in the worship. I nodded my head along with the reciting of the familiar words of I Corinthians 15:53-54,57 – “For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory … But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The story of Jesus entering into Jerusalem is a familiar one if you’ve been raised in Church. When you’re little they tell you it’s Palm Sunday and you get your very own branch/frond and instruct you to wave it in celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem. Normally, I would post more of the story, point out the irony of the fickle crowd that cheered one day and later called for Jesus’ execution. Normally, I would recall the scenes of Passion Week and reflect on the betrayal, abandonment, injustice and innocence. Normally, I would point out Jesus’ entry on a small donkey. And normally I would try to contextualize al of this as by saying if this was a modern day entrance, it would be like rolling into town in a beat-up pickup truck. No offense to the pickup owners, but you’d expect Jesus to roll onto the red carpet in a limo instead of a ’83 Ford Ranger.

But for my Uncle’s family, my family, and those who are mourning Anwar, we began last week already in Good Friday. And we’re anxious for the peace, joy, and life-giving message of Easter soon and anxious to celebrate the Resurrection Story of Jesus. Maybe you can relate in some way, maybe your heart is heavy, may this be a meaningful Holy Week for you and yours.


  1. Slothful One says:

    Memory Eternal

  2. Thanks brother.

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