My friend Kimberly Coyle is a beautifully gifted writer, and this year, she is offering something really special to help us quiet our minds and turn our hearts toward Jesus this holy season. If you had the opportunity to listen to Kimberly’s recent audio series for Advent, then you know what a special gift this new Holy Week series is. I know I, for one, desperately need this invitation into quiet contemplation as we enter Holy Week this year. Please join me in welcoming Kimberly Coyle to the blog today, and please do subscribe to receive her Holy Week audio devotional series, which will arrive free in your in-box on Palm Sunday and continue through Easter.
Confession: Easter is not my favorite holiday. This is an unpopular opinion in Christian circles, especially when one is a former pastor’s kid who has celebrated Easter Sunday since she was a wee one wearing a new, twirly skirt for the occasion.
Childhood Easters often felt forced–the long morning at church, the best behavior, the quiet dinner afterwards as my parents recovered from greeting an oversized congregation–the celebration of holidays like Christmas came far more naturally to me. Based on the consumerist creep into the Christmas season, I’m not alone. Most of us celebrate for weeks, allowing Christmas to permeate every part of us: from our homes, to our music playlists, to our waistlines. We are hardwired for joy, a celebratory people, who revel in a sense of expectation, in giving and receiving.
Christmas is mystery. It is desire. It is the best kind of waiting. And it culminates in the most human experience of all time–the act of giving birth. Christmas is labor, life, the cry of an infant, a mother’s breast engorged with first milk. It is earthy. The soft bleating of barn animals and the pungent scent of dung and hay and sweat surround us. We can feel the wonder of it settling into the marrow of our bones.
Easter is celebration, yes, but it is prefaced by brutality–a kind of cruelty we can hardly fathom. Easter is a war between Heaven and Earth, between sin and salvation. It is otherworldly–an earthquake, a shroud of darkness, a veil inexplicably torn in two. It is a cosmic battle we celebrate with chocolate bunnies and a spiral ham.
Every year as Easter approaches, I hope to connect more intimately to Jesus. I’ve begun to observe Lent, and while this prepares my heart, I still feel a sense of disconnect from this time in the life of Jesus. He crosses over a threshold where I can’t easily follow. This year, I decided to approach Holy Week with a sense for the humanity behind it. I wanted to enter into it, bringing my full self to the cross with Jesus.
When I see the cross and the resurrection through the eyes of the witnesses present, I can enter into the force of it through their stories. The resurrection was prefaced by confusion, betrayal, and grief. At the foot of the cross we witness weeping. We hear the crowd’s mockery. We feel the fear pulsing through Jesus’ followers, and the empty triumph of the religious leaders. We identify with their humanity–the sight and sound and feel of each moment through their senses.
This is how we enter into Easter. We come bound to our own flesh, and to the flesh of those who came before us. We enter into the death and resurrection of Jesus through the physical experiences and the inner turmoil of the witnesses. To look up at Jesus from the foot of the cross with his mother Mary, or to weep in the courtyard with Peter has put skin on this season for me.
I want to spend time with these men and women a little longer, so I created something for us to share this Easter season. I’ve recorded an audio devotional for each day of Holy Week–a meditation on the Journey to Resurrection through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it.
These short audio devotionals are meant to help us center our thoughts on Jesus even as we hide Easter eggs and stuff our baskets with bunnies. The first devotional will land in in-boxes on Palm Sunday, and will arrive daily thereafter until the day before Easter.
As we wait for Palm Sunday to arrive, I’ve created three spring printables for you to download and print for free. It’s my gift to you as we wait for spring to show her face at long last here in the Northeast. I hope you enjoy them!