Sunday, April 5, is Palm Sunday – the beginning of Holy Week. During this week, Christians around the world remember the events of Jesus’ passion and death. This year, our journey with Jesus to the cross and tomb will happen while we are physically separate from each other, separated because of the current coronavirus pandemic. Yet, in spite of not gathering together in our churches, we remain together as the church – together and united in Christ, united in baptism, united in faith, united in prayer.
As we read, hear, and reflect on the Word of God recounting the events of Jesus’ passion and death, we can’t help but see them in a deeper way, in the context of a broken world and humanity in need, as we experience personally living with grief, lament, and fervent prayer during these uncertain times. Nevertheless, in the face of all that would threaten to physically separate us from each other, God’s Word reminds us that “nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Rom 8:39b), and we are united in the mercy and love of Christ. “For God so loved the world” (Jn 3:16), that God gave us Jesus, who holds us close and together in his arms. We are reminded of just how deep the love of Christ is for us; it is a love to the cross and death, and leads to victory and an empty tomb. The strife of Jesus during this Holy Week demonstrates that our Savior God knows our strife too; and the victory of Jesus is our victory too.
Attached to this message are links for worship at home during this Holy Week. Palm Sunday worship begins with a brief video of blessing of the palms, which may be continued with the attached worship at home service. Links for home worship for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Saturday Vigil of Easter are also attached. For Good Friday, you may precede the home worship with the video of the Passion Reading. For Holy Saturday, you may begin the home worship with the video chanting of the Exsultet, the Easter Proclamation. All videos may be accessed from the homepage of the Synod website, or from the Featured Videos tab on our Synod’s app on iOS and Android. We thank Pastor Thomas Drobena of Holy Trinity, Stafford Springs, CT and Joshua Drobena of the Synod’s Communications Desk for providing the videos for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Saturday’s Vigil of Easter, and we thank Holy Trinity, Torrington, CT for being the site of these recordings. In addition, we thank John Baranovich, Pastor Marjorie Keiter, and St. John the Evangelist Slovak Lutheran Church, Lansford, PA for providing the video and site for the Maundy Thursday rite for the stripping of the altar during a reading of Psalm 22.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, even when we must live and worship apart from each other, absent from our church buildings, we are still in community and together with one another in faith, called to love and serve each other in the name of Christ, especially those in greatest need. May God bless you and hold you close as you journey with Jesus during this Holy Week.
+Bishop Wilma S. Kucharek