Here is a short video reflection for children on Maundy Thursday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBCj2o43bxg and a longer written Holy Week reflection for adults.

As I journey through these strange days of a COVID Holy Week, I am reminded of the Holy Week liturgies of my childhood.

I remember the sombre Maundy Thursday procession to the back of the church carrying the Bread of God’s presence to repose through the dark hours of the night before Good Friday. I sensed the loneliness of Jesus whose fragile friends could not stay awake to watch with him for “one hour”. I felt their fear and looked on horrified at their abandonment of the man they had pledged to follow. In my youth, I knew that I would have been different. I know now that I am just as they were.

I remember the stark barrenness of the church on the day of crucifixion. I recall the veil of the holy tabernacle pulled back and the door that was always closed in honour of God’s presence, hanging open to reveal the awful emptiness of God’s absence. I grew to know this emptiness as a familiar experience with which I would struggle for much of my life.

Yet, even as a child, I sensed in some vague mysterious way that the God we worshiped in these austere and moving rituals was a God who could embrace the world of God’s own absence. This was a God who had entered into the agony of all the suffering I might ever see and could redeem the brokenness with tenderness and love.

The God of the empty tabernacle is a God who will not be summed up in a few easy words. The Good Friday God became the Easter Sunday God who could blast aside the stone rolled across the tomb of my life and who would never be contained by anything I might ever think or conceive.

The God I discovered as we walked the way of the cross was big enough to hear my fears and not turn away. The God I see in Jesus is a God who can look at the chaos of my life and, in place of judgment, return love and compassion. This is a God who entered into the world fully enough to understand the brokenness of life and to heal the wounds of all creation. This is a God who does not need to turn away from the mess we humans make of our lives and of all creation.  This God came in the darkness of the whirlwind and remained to hear the cry of my aching heart.

Holy Week is a journey from the secure land of “knowing” to the adventurous terrain of faith. It is a journey in which I open to a deeper reality within myself. I come to see that knowing means more than understanding. Knowing is much more than rational apprehension or conceptualization. To truly know is to enter into the mystery and be embraced by the Reality hidden in the darkness of all that I cannot grasp.

The author of The Cloud of Unknowing wrote that,

God Himself no man can think.

God cannot be confined or contained within the narrow framework of human reason.

If the author had stopped with this stark statement, he would not have penned the inspired classic that has nourished Christians for generations. But he did not stop by merely drawing the limits of human intellectual capacity. He went on to declare,

I would therefore leave all those things of which I can think and choose
for my love that thing of which I cannot think. And why is this so? 
He may be well loved, but he may not be thought of.  He may be reached
and held close by means of love, but by means of thought never.

The author of The Cloud invites me to open to another way of navigating the journey of life, another level or dimension of reality deeper than human reason. I cannot think my way into this deeper dimension. It is entered by way of negation. I must, “leave all those things of which I can think,” and move to a different place within myself.

It is not that thinking is wrong or bad. Thinking has its place. When you have a reasonable problem to solve, it is good to use reason to seek a reasonable solution. But the deeper realities of life are not amenable to rational faculties. God functions in a realm that transcends all the normal routine human faculties.

This is the journey of Holy Week. I move forward uncertain where exactly the road may lead, but confident that, wherever I travel, I am sustained by the mysterious presence of that Love than cannot be defeated by any harsh realities I may encounter. This the COVID journey upon which the world is embarked. We do not know how we got to this place or where the journey may be headed.  But, as we move forward with hearts open to the deeper realities hidden behind the struggles of the surface, we will find the way leads always to the apprehension of light and the dawn of new hope. If we walk faithfully with Jesus this Holy Week of pain will lead to the new life of Easter.