A few weeks ago my wife and I were chatting with some friends about Holy Week. We were sharing what our respective congregations were planning. Here…we share Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worships with Belmont Lutheran Church (the small county congregation I serve). We each take one of those services and then flip the following year. This year we worship at Belmont on Maundy Thursday and at Salem for Good Friday.
As I was sharing this I was talking about this old rugged cross that a couple Salem guys made a few years back. It stands about 6 feet tall and made from two nice-sized tree branches. They did a very nice job and it’s perfect for Good Friday worship. As soon as I mentioned this I froze. You see…on Ash Wednesday we put a larger cross in Salem’s narthex (we decorate this cross with palm branches and lilies for Easter Sunday). There is a crown of thorns on top and it is draped with a purple cloth. It greets people as they enter the narthex to remind then of Lent and of Jesus’ suffering and death.
Well…the cross was not there in the narthex. I forgot to put it out 😦
How could I possibly forget the cross? My wife was quick to remind me that our custodian always put it out…but here’s the thing…that person is no longer our custodian due to a stroke he suffered last June. I always took for granted that Dave would have the cross out and ready to go for Ash Wednesday and Lent. But that doesn’t absolve me for forgetting that cross.
I mean…think about it. Lent is a time for us to remember why Jesus suffered and died on the cross. We are to remember our mortality and sin. We are to remember that from dust we came and to dust we shall return. We are to remember that without the cross we are condemned to hell. The cross is the focus…and I forgot that narthex cross. But here’s another thing…no one else noticed either (or at least they didn’t say anything to me). I am not sure what bothers me more: Me forgetting or no one saying anything about it.
So the solution was to put it up for Palm Sunday (which we did); marking the beginning of Holy Week. The purple cloth on that cross will be replaced on Maundy Thursday with a black one. The cross will then be put outside for Good Friday to REMIND people of what Jesus did for us. And…the cross will be “decorated” with palm branches and lilies to remind us of the joy that comes through the cross.
Now…when I walk through the narthex I feel a little more complete…with the reality of the cross staring at me. I hope that when Easter is done that I won’t need a large cross in the narthex to remind me of what Jesus did FOR YOU and FOR ME.
May you have a blessed Holy Week and a very happy Easter!
Praise be to God!