In Holy Week we walk with Jesus during the last week of his life. We celebrate on Palm Sunday, turn sorrowful on Maundy Thursday, experience the crucifixion on Good Friday, and then resurrection on Easter Sunday.
I was saved on Easter Sunday 45 years ago. I know we don’t use the term “saved” or “conversion” in the Reformed tradition but indulge me as I share my testimony with you through my Pentecostal lens. My conversation happened at a small Pentecostal church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in a Sunday School class! Because I had to return to Chicago for college, I couldn’t stay for worship, so they baptized me at the end of Sunday School before worship began. I received the glossolalia experience of the Holy Spirit while coming out of the water! This continues to be a bright light in my spiritual journey. I still get emotional when reflecting upon that experience.
I have since had many more conversions and experiences with God, including a call to ministry, a call to seminary, and a conversion of grace to the Reformed tradition. As I look back over the steps in my Christian journey, I can see what began as a love for Jesus evolving into an ecumenical and interfaith love for all of God’s people. I can see where God shifted my focus from an individual experience to being part of a particular faith community of complex and loving human relationships.
In her On Being podcast interview with the late Pastor Eugene Peterson, Krista Tippet talks about church shopping. Peterson makes it clear that he recommends attending small churches because people will have to face relationships that are not easy. In the unedited version, Tippet responds, “I think that for most people, church is an experience they go to have, rather than being a part of a group of people.”
My hope is that for you and those who attend worship this week that church can be both an individual experience and a community involvement. My hope is that Holy Week will be a bright step in someone’s journey as they engage the grace of Jesus Christ in new and refreshing ways. Maybe this Holy Week we will make our churches a place where people are welcome to experience a life-changing God, while being in the midst of all of God’s people.
Blessed Holy Week.
Rev. Craig Howard