Good morning, mini-women! Thank you SO much for all your comments on talking to your friends about God talking to YOU -- and for your answers to the question: DOes your dad think you're beautiful? You can keep answering that one, by the way, because we would love to have lots of wisdom out of the mouths of mini-women.
I also want to thank you for being so responsible about the bad stuff that someone tried to post on our blog. Several of you were right on it, before I even caught it, and said "Don't click on this!" I was able to delete the comment and block that person from posting again before anybody had a bad experience. I also loved that so many of you responded saying you would pray for this person, who has some serious issues. The Internet was created so everyone could have a voice. It's sad when someone uses it to shout with an ugly one.
But we're not about "ugly" this week. We're about holy. This week between Palm Sunday and Easter Day is called Holy Week not because it actually IS any holier than any other week. I mean, they all belong to God so they all have God's holiness in them. But during this special week we're more than usually aware of what Jesus did for us and how it all happened. Each day of this week focuses on something that happened in the last six days of Jesus' life on earth, something that makes Easter Sunday even more amazing than we realize. In fact, if we don't observe these days very carefully, we can't really appreciate how incredible Easter is. It just becomes a day when you get dressed up and get a basket full of chocolate bunnies (that's what I'm hoping for, at least!) and go hunting for plastic eggs filled with MORE candy. Then you eat a ham and . . . Yeah -- celebrating the resurrection of our Lord needs to be a bigger deal than that -- not in our egg hunts and coconut cakes, but in our hearts.So -- each DAY this week, we're going to look at what happened to Jesus on this day in the last week he was with his earthly friends. We'll have to go backwards first, since this is Tuesday, and then we'll head on toward Friday. I'll make some suggestions for things to do and think about, so that by the time Easter morning dawns, you'll feel like running to the tomb to find that He is risen. Sound good to you?
Palm Sunday -- (that was day before yesterday)
What we focus on: Jesus riding into Jerusalem for the big Passover Feast, on a colt, with people waving palms and throwing their garments in the road like a red carpet, crying out, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!"
Why that's important: Many people realized then that Jesus really was the Messiah and they thought he was going into Jerusalem to overthrow the Romans and return the city to the Jewish people. They didn't realize that he was a different kind of savior, a more important one, the one they really needed. It's a joyful day of celebration, and yet it's sad, too, because we know what's waiting for him at the end of the week. Jesus knew, and on that day he wept for his people.
What we do to celebrate: We wave palms or fashion them into crosses that we wear pinned to our clothes. In my church, we do a dramatic reading of the whole story, from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem to the crucifixion. This year, I was one of the soldiers, and I had to cry out, "If you're the king of the Jews, save yourself!" I didn't particularly like that role, but it made me realize that there were people who really didn't understand what they were doing and who Jesus was. I'm even more glad that I do.
Monday in Holy Week (that was yesterday)
What we focus on: This was the day when Jesus went into the temple and turned over the tables and set the sacrificial animals free, telling the merchants that this was a house of prayer and they had turned it into a den of thieves.
Why it's important: People traveled miles and miles and spent a great deal of money to get to Jerusalem for the great feast of the Passover -- that's how important it was to a Jewish person. They were to bring their best animal, their purest, to be sacrificed, and for some that was a huge hardship. If someone brought a lamb that had a little defect on her belly, let's say, a priest could refuse it, but there were plenty of merchants there with lambs to sell, "approved' ones, that, of course, cost a lot more than the ones people brought. It was definitely a twisting of what the Passover was supposed to be about. Not only that, but people were only allowed to use shekels as coins to give to the temple. If they came with what would be today a dollar bill, they had to get it changed into shekels, right? The money-changers would CHARGE them for that, so it would be like giving a dollar bill and only getting three quarters for it. In other words, people were being cheated right and left, in the name of God. Jesus wasn't having it any more. He still isn't having it. As he cleaned up some messes before he passed from us in human form, he reminds us to clean up our own messes, the things we do supposedly in the name of God that hurt and cheat other people.
How we can observe it: We don't usually "celebrate" this event in the life of Jesus, but we can "observe" it, and here's one way. Think and pray about anything you may do, thinking it's all godly and churchy and good, that might not be exactly what God has in mind. For example, do you gossip to your friends about someone and say, "I'm only telling you this so you can pray for her?" Uh-huh. Have you ever made someone feel left out because she wasn't a Christian? Have you ever made a big deal out of doing something nice for someone, so everybody would notice? In observance of this day in Holy Week, you might want to make a full confession to God -- and do what you can to make amends for whatever you may have done. Not a big production. Just a quiet, "Will you forgive me?" or a silent changing of your ways.
Tuesday in Holy Week (today)
What we focus on: In Jerusalem, Jesus was stirring people up with his healing and teaching, and the Jewish authorities felt like it was time for that to come to a stop before their power was taken away. They were no longer working for God -- they were working for their own importance. They tried to catch him by asking him trick questions -- and he made fools of them every time.
Why it's important: Two reasons. One, because the authorities knew that if they were going to stop his teaching, they were going to have to kill him, or they would lose their power. And, two, because Jesus shows us in those "debates" that we can argue and question and try to find ways out all we want to, but the truth is still the truth: God has the only true power, and that power is love.
How we observe it: It's a good day to remember that being important isn't what's important! It's a day for saying, "God is in charge. Am I letting God be in charge, or am I arguing, looking for a way to be, well, important?" If we're really going to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead for us, we want to clean up our act in preparation -- and that means giving up power. Are you the powerful one in your group of friends? Among your brothers and sisters? Do you try to get power over your parents sometimes -- arguing, nagging, whining, working them until they give in? Do you try to get power in the classroom by giving the teacher a hard time, or power over that girl everybody makes fun of, when you join in so you won't be next.?Take a look at your powers today -- and give them back to God. There's just no point in arguing with God about them, right?
If you'd like to make a Holy Week comment today, tell us your answer to one of those questions in green. Can't wait!Blessings on your Holy week!