As a coach I learned that you write out a training plan from back to front – in other words from the final event of the season (which for some might be league championships and for a special few State or nationals or even Olympics) you plan backwards to the start of the season. Christians do the same. Our “Championship” week(end) is Holy Week and its culmination on Easter Day. The collect for Sunday reminds us how God makes us glad through the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  As a diocesan bishop I would encourage clergy to get as much of their preparation work for Holy Week out of the way, so that they could enjoy the time focusing on worship with their people. 

An athlete tapers for that special event, pulling back on the push of heavy training to let their body rest. And if the timing is right, the body responds with what they call supercompensation, an additional surge of energy and focus that can tip you over to new achievements in performance. Setting aside time for Holy Week offerings is our spiritual tapering, and we reach the Great Three Days of Maundy Thursday through the Day of Easter focused and energized. 

And it begins this coming Saturday and Palm Sunday, as we invite you to enjoy an afternoon of intergenerational activity of crafts, conversation and connecting. For years at St Barnabas’ in Eagle Rock, Donna and I would gather with members of the Church to share Holy Week focused projects. We brought the art of decorating Easter eggs which we had learned during our time with the Orthodox in Romania and invited people of every age to join us. The altar guild took their traditional activity of making palm crosses for the liturgy of palms service and shared their craft with young people and children of the parish. And so, we learn from each other and may be practice a side of our brain we rarely utilize, and we enjoy the cross generational interaction as the Body of Christ, all the while preparing ourselves, tapering, for the experiences of worship ahead. 

We are inviting you to gather at Grace on Saturday for similar activities, from 3-5. We will end the day by breaking bread together in a simple meal. There will be an activity for every age, and we invite you to bring anything that might be your special way of marking the way forward through Holy Week. 

Some activities will be targeted preparations for Holy Week. The creation of palm crosses is one such activity. Young people asked to read in the Passion on Sunday will be taken through their paces by Donna, an experienced lector and drama reader. And a small group of us who have been spending Lent as a “pop-up” small group studying the process of faithful Innovations will go out on a neighborhood prayer walk, perhaps foreshadowing the traditional walk of Jesus and his disciples into and through Jerusalem.

In one way or another, we urge you to find yourself a reflective place through which your spirit can become focused and energized for all Jesus wants to show you as we come upon this holiest and greatest days of our Christian year. This is Championship season, may God find us resting, focused vessels ready to be taken beyond our expectations.  

-Bishop Alan Scarfe