10 April 2020

Another Quiet Holy Week

As a pastor, this has been the most difficult season of ministry for me. To not be able to worship with my church and yet still try to support them in this time of need has been challenging and yet rewarding. There are many emotions that creep up throughout every day, no more than during the past few days of Holy Week. Today there is a great deal of sadness around the world and I could not have summed up the feelings of so many people better than how my wife did with the remainder of this post, speaking about Notre Dame Cathedral and their Good Friday service today.

After you read her beautifully written words, I encourage you to listen to the YouTube link at the bottom. “Last year it was heart-wrenching and unfathomable to picture an empty Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris during Holy Week due to the devastating fire that ravaged this iconic church on April 15, 2019, just one day after Palm Sunday as the most important week in the Christian calendar was beginning. No one there on Thursday in remembrance of the last supper or Jesus’s humility in foot washing. No one there on Friday to solemnly ponder the greatest sacrifice made for us. No one there on Sunday to praise and worship in jubilee the risen Lord.

Last year it was so painful to think of this church being empty of worshipers during this most important time, for the first time in hundreds of years, and yet we had absolutely no way of predicting that this would be the fate for every single church just the following year again during the church’s most important week of remembrance and celebration. This pain is magnified millions of times over as we grieve the inability of Christians the world over to join together this week.

This year the loneliness and fear, the somberness and heartache, that Jesus’s followers surely felt on the day of his crucifixion is felt perhaps now more than ever in recent memory. Empty churches across the world give a small feel to what those followers forced so suddenly to live in a world without Jesus must have felt. Isolation. Fear. Hopelessness. Uncertainty. The desire to go back in time and be together again. We experience these all this day, and we cannot wait for this time to pass.

Today a small mass of just a handful of people took place at Notre Dame Cathedral. As Ava Maria was sung before what many Christians believe to be the actual crown of thorns Jesus was forced to wear, we see a small glimmer of hope. Our churches will not be empty forever. Flames did not destroy this church, just as this virus will not destroy our church communities. The faithful will remain, whatever is standing against us, and we will be back together soon, free to worship and praise the God who has been faithful to us all along.” –Stephanie Bondhus