Greetings, everyone, as we begin Holy Week for those of the Judeo-Christian faith heritage. It is the foundation of our faith, which is why it is revered and critical for spiritual strength.
It began yesterday, Palm Sunday, when we remembered Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The interesting point to consider is that there were those who believed that Jesus was entering Jerusalem as a conquering earthly king. They truly did not comprehend the real intent of His mission.
Since the fall of man -- going back to the Garden of Eden, which was God’s perfect will for mankind -- sin, strife, wars, pestilence, and death entered the world. From that moment, God sought to provide a means by which there could be reconciliation to His grace.
Early on, there were the sacrifices of animals, sheep, as a means of atonement for our sins…but that would not be enough. God determined that we, in all our faults, shortcomings, and failures, would need a living sacrifice, one in our own image, that would provide us saving grace, and eternal union with Him.
John 3:16-17 (NIV), “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
At the end of this week, we will mark Good Friday. Some may consider that an oxymoron, but it is indeed a Good Friday. It is the day that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ took upon Himself our sins for eternity. He became our sacrifice, a gateway, the propitiation of our sins. As it says in Isaiah 53:5 (NIV), “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
But the real story of Holy Week is its true triumphant ending, Resurrection Day.
The story of this week that we have affectionately over the years come to call Easter week, is about four things – Redemption, Reconciliation, Restoration, and Resurrection. Those four Rs are the basis of the Judeo-Christian faith heritage. These are four Rs are more important, vital, integral than ever today for this world.
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV), “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
We are facing a deadly pestilence, COVID-19, but as the aforementioned verses from Romans state, this current suffering can produce something lasting. This pestilence has taken nearly more than 9,600 lives in our America and tens of thousands worldwide. In this time, we must find our strength not in man and his terms such as “flattening the curve.” We must come together and seek out God’s blessings for our overcoming -- and we have been through rough times previously.
In this time, we can build our perseverance – our persistence, determination, strong will – we should not allow fear and anxiety to overtake us. We can find our character as a nation to cast aside divisions and join as one, not advocating ideological agendas, but rather caring for one another. Our character as an American people is not one of panic, paranoia, and hysteria.
Consider the challenges faced by our Founding Fathers to create this impeccable Constitutional Republic in which we live. In my home is the rendition of George Washington, at Valley Forge, kneeling beside his horse in effective, fervent prayer…prayer for perseverance and strength of character. In doing so, Washington was seeking out the real source of hope for our fledgling Nation. This is what we are called to do this Holy Week, and every week.
Always remember that “yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.” Those words are made real when we see these trials and tribulations as the means to gird ourselves, and look upon High, fixing our eyes above, not below.
Holy Week is all about the culmination of the four Rs – Redemption, Reconciliation, Restoration, and Resurrection. Those four Rs are a roadmap for our Recovery, from COVID-19.
This week, seek to redeem yourself spiritually and physically. We need to take it upon ourselves, just as accepting God’s grace and personal salvation is an individual, not collective, responsibility. So is our personal health and wellbeing. Let’s take care of ourselves going forward, after all it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV), “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;”. You have been reconciled and restored by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And we should restore ourselves to that simple faith principle.
With hope, we will see a resurrection of our Nation. No one wants death by pestilence to disrupt our lives. However, in these sufferings, trials, and tribulations, let us search deeply within ourselves and do our part for the resurrection of our America.
Now, in closing, I am sure there are those of you who will simply say, I don’t need this sanctimonious ranting. I get it. There are those who will say that I do not subscribe to the Judeo-Christian faith heritage, or some may say they do not subscribe to religion.
Well, I am not talking about man-made dogma. I am speaking of faith, inner fortitude, the four Rs – Redemption, Reconciliation, Restoration, and Resurrection. We may seek resolution and solutions elsewhere, but there is only one place where those four Rs come together and provide us real Hope…and eternal peace.
It happens this week, Easter week -- but more importantly, it can happen every day within each of us, and for our Nation. Let’s pray that the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will cause this pestilence to pass over us soon.
Philippians 4:13 (NIV), “I can do all this through Him [Christ] who gives me strength.” Written by the Apostle Paul as he was chained in prison awaiting his death.
Blessed Holy Week, America.