I love Holy Week. I love preparing for it each year through Lent. I love setting up for the extra gatherings (after all I often say that setup is often my favorite part of Tapestry’s worship gatherings). I love coming together to read Mark 14-15 during our Tenebrae gathering and being with each other while walking out of that gathering in silence and darkness each year. I love seeing everybody on Resurrection Sunday, Easter, and seeing who decided to dress up or actually wear a fancy hat to church (we aren’t a dressy congregation but I could get into being a fancy hat church). I love eating Easter lunch with others who join us almost every year. I love the joy that is a part of each of these elements of Holy Week and I believe they are an appropriate reminder of the resurrection of the Son of God. I love Holy Week.
Which is why Holy Week 2020 stunk.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for what we were still able to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful for the technology that enabled us to communicate with each other during the week, to worship together through so many people sharing their talents and time to video various elements of our worship gathering. I so appreciate seeing many friends on Saturday when they came by the house to pick up jambalaya and communion bread, that the Holte’s graciously made. But that comes back to why Holy Week 2020 stunk.
Even when I was able to connect with people I couldn’t actually connect with them. I lament that we were merely “sort of” coming together. It was by video or at a distance of 6′ to 12′. It was with a protective “film” around our interaction and contact. We didn’t really come together during Holy Week, we just seemed to come close to one another. When we should have been experiencing God’s joy in the resurrection, the Godhead’s exuberant joy of no longer being separated, through us coming together in communion, instead, we held communion while we were each isolated in our homes. This isn’t the way it is supposed to be. It isn’t how we were meant to celebrate the death of death in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Easter is the reminder of that first great getting up morning and when we got up we weren’t together. We barely moved from our beds to our couches. Holy Week 2020 stunk.
I know for many people the videos and phone calls may always be the best, or at least most consistent, means they have for connecting with others and I am thankful for such advances that enable this contact. Certain challenges may keep them from being able to be with others. I love the fact that I can use Duo to video-call Adam in Minneapolis pretty much anytime I want, but I would never consider such calls as good as being with him. They aren’t. I am so grateful for Google Hangouts, Zoom, Discord, Duo, Webex and the other video/internet technologies for the distances and challenges that they allow us to sort of reach past, but they only “sort of” reach past those distances and challenges. Just “sort of”.
To paraphrase Douglas Adam these technologies are “almost, but not quite, entirely unlike” actually being with each other. They are definitely better than nothing but realistically they lead to me thinking more and more “How long O Lord?” They don’t satiate my desire to connect with those I love (a desire that I believe honors God) but they lead me to longing for it all the more, which I believe is a good, but also painful, thing. It reminds me how much I love these people who help me to follow the Risen Savior. Seeing everyone on my television is sweet but it is a bittersweetness because it reminds me of what I was missing during Holy Week.
This isn’t the way it is supposed to be. It isn’t the way we will eternally celebrate communion with God, each other, and creation in the new world that has no sea. This past week my family and I remembered when God chose isolation to save us from the isolation we face in a world “bent” by sin, and we did so isolated from the rest of the world and the ones we love who are created in the image of the Triune God.
Holy Week 2020 sucked … still I am thankful for it … but it sucked compared to what it usually is.