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Holy Week begins — a time to reflect on blessings

Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week when we recall the events surrounding the death of Jesus on Good Friday. Celebrating Holy Week is not an obligation, but an opportunity to reflect on our blessings.
Ordinarily, Christians would be in churches Sunday morning. Some would receive palms in remembrance of Jesus’s journey in Jerusalem. Some would listen to the Biblical narrative of His suffering. Others would enjoy musicals presented by church choirs.
Too many churches are still closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many still have on-line services and parking lot services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. In our town there are usually Holy Week services by the Carter County Ministerial Association. That changed last year with the pandemic. However, many churches this year are having services.
Before the pandemic it was unimaginable for many people of faith whose parents and grandparents kept going to religious services through wars and crises — personal and political — of all kinds.
The place they worshipped was, in fact, their anchor in an uncertain world. We remember when on the evening of Sept. 11, 2011, and in the days that followed, as the horrors of what had transpired began to sink in, people flocked to their houses of worship, seeking strength, peace and community in a world that had been rocked.
Then came last year and the COVID-19 pandemic. There were public health concerns that made gatherings impossible. Christians were asked to stay away from church. To stay home. Christians have missed the comfort that comes with sitting side by side with others in faith, lifting their voices in praise, and the love that comes with worshiping with each other.
Sacrifices have been made. There have been losses. This past year has been a surreal and sad time.
Many congregations do not have the technological know-how — or internet or the devices — to connect with their places of worship online. They have had to worship alone.
However, it has been a time for Christians to reach out to each other, either by phone or in person, to show their love in a special way.
However, with more and more people getting vaccinations, many this year can attend worship services in person.
We want to live as people who know the end of the story, not as people who don’t. We chafe at the idea of not joining together on Easter Sunday to celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
Oh, if only we understood Jesus’ power, which still was in full force in the most socially distant place, the grave.
Where are you this Easter in the resurrection story? Are you among the scattered seeking to avoid COVID-19? Do you approach Easter worship in fear?
Holy Week is not an ordinary time, and like last year, this Holy Week is extraordinary.
Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, which Christians will celebrate this week, are tied forever to Passover. And as long as there is memory of the current coronavirus pandemic, the annual observance of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection will be tied to our current circumstance.
This year, we hope that wherever you are, that the power of His resurrection be known in you and through you like no time before in our living memory. May it be a time of hope and faith, a time of reaching out to your neighbor and your church family. May you experience a new joy.
We wish you a blessed Holy Week.