March 28, 2012

Holy Week in the Slow Lane

Filed under: Lectionary — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 1:00 am

Don’t look for me in church this Sunday. I’ll be leaving before the main service starts. I probably won’t even stick around to referee my husband and daughter’s annual Palm Sunday Swordfight. (Referee, in this case, consists mostly of glaring and suggesting they go outside. But it won’t matter because I won’t be there.)

You see, I have to leave after the Liturgy of the Palms. I can’t compress the experience of Holy Week into the tiny space between the first hymn and the Gospel reading. I can’t cope with going straight from All Glory, Laud, and Honor to shouting “Crucify him!” It’s too much. I need Holy Week to unfold slowly, daily; I need to take in doses what is simply too much to take in all at once.

I love Holy Week. I love the tension and the anticipation. When I was a kid, we went to church every Wednesday in Lent, and what felt like every day in Holy Week. We told the story slowly, from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday, from Good Friday (always a day off school) through Easter. The whole town made the journey together: My mother always saved out the donkey when she packed away the Hummel nativity set so that my grandmother could use it in the family jewelry store’s window display. The fire station turned off the noon whistle on Good Friday. Stores closed from noon until three in the afternoon. It was a week that infused our lives with scripture and tradition. We couldn’t rush it…no matter how pretty our new dresses were or how fancy our hats…we couldn’t rush it.

As an adult living in a different context of time and place, I have come to view my need for Holy Week in the slow lane as a matter of stewardship of self. It is nothing short of a call to honor my baptismal vow to continue in the apostles’ teachings, and the fellowship, and the breaking of the bread (but not until Thursday). It is a time when I create the space to read, pray, and reflect on the span of days that changed the world and shaped the life I know. It’s a path that can only be walked at its own pace.

So if you need to talk to me on Sunday, be sure to catch me before the service. I won’t be at coffee hour. I’ll be the one pulling out of the parking lot with the Hosanna still on my lips.



  1. I’m sure I’ve probably already told you this, but Palm Sunday is the most exhausting day of the year for me to be a priest, because I have to go through that emotional roller coaster TWICE in the course of about 4 hours.

    Comment by Nancy Moore — March 28, 2012 @ 8:16 pm |Reply

  2. […] her post about Stewardship this week, Lisa Meeder-Turnbull also talks about her experiences of Holy Week and the importance of taking it one step at a time.  […]

    Pingback by On the Way to Easter « Maine inFormation — March 30, 2012 @ 7:45 pm |Reply

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