For the readings for Holy Week, go to our Online Lectionary.
At this time seven years ago, I was leaving the Cathedral in Halifax following our Reaffirmation of Vows and Blessing of Oils. I was preparing for my first Holy Week and I was feeling completely out of my depth. I had been taught well, but it is a whole different experience when you don’t have a supervisor to fall back on.
I went to greet my then bishop, now Primate, Fred Hiltz. I told him how overwhelmed I was feeling, trying to write sermons for each day. He asked me why I was preaching through Holy Week. “I don’t know,” I replied. “Aren’t we supposed to? Isn’t that what people expect?”
Archbishop Fred responded, “Let the liturgy preach. The Holy Week liturgies speak for themselves. If you say anything, simply point people to the liturgy. That is enough.” I relaxed and thought, “Well, if my bishop doesn’t write sermons for Holy Week, then neither will I!”
Now that I serve a community with many people who are relatively new to Anglicanism, I realize that the liturgies don’t speak as clearly to those who have come from a different tradition or no tradition at all. The liturgies are full of symbolism, and if the symbolism is unfamiliar, it can become confusing and distracting, shutting people out rather than drawing people in.
Still, I hold to the advice to keep the remarks short and point people to the liturgy. Holy Week is a drama, and I spend more time creating a liturgy that draws people into participating in Christ’s journey from a historical view and also bringing our own lives, joys and challenges into the Easter story, then I do writing sermons.
I’ve chosen to give all of Holy Week one post because many of us carry our preaching through the week, and it is often closely tied to our liturgies. What are you looking forward to sharing with your community this Holy Week? What does your road to the cross look like? What word are you bringing or hoping to hear?