Holy Week: Love to the End

This Holy Week has been unlike any that any of us can remember.  We are celebrating alone, separated from our local church family, walking through the week with grief and heavy hearts in a way that many of us haven’t before.

We take communion at home, as a family.  We talk about the Easter story over dinner.  Gone are large family lunches and community Easter egg hunts.  We mail cards to family members we would usually see.  I wipe down candy from the grocery story with Clorox wipes and I wonder if I’ve found enough candy for baskets to keep the dream alive for our youngest another year.

Heavy.  Slogging through each breath.  Grief. Loss.

 

I’m one of those people who doesn’t just feel my own emotions deeply – I think of and worry about the emotions of others.  Even in normal times, I have to temper my access to sad stories, to sweet stories, to things that tug on the heartstrings of all of us, as I’ll be the one crying over Publix commercials no matter the season.  Even with limiting my social media and news intake, I currently feel like someone has turned my radar up to 11.

I ponder how my children are feeling, how my anxiety is impacting them. How they are internalizing what is going on around them in the world.

I worry for the stress level of my husband, his heartache and his own worry.

I fear for my parents – their health, and their mind in isolation.

I grieve for my friends in healthcare, those on the front-lines each day as I sit at home in relative privilege.  Those that still see their family each day, but with fear in every interaction; and those that have separated from their family to keep them as safe as possible.

I cry for my teacher friends, who cry for their students; for time lost with those young people, out of concern for their young hearts and minds and stomachs.

I hurt for my friends separated from their loved ones by situation or distance or logistics.

Heavy. Slogging through each breath.  Grief.  Loss.

 

Probably because of this nature of mind, I often contemplate how Jesus and his disciples were feeling during this Holy Week.  I think of His heart.  I think of His isolation during this week.  How, while surrounded by his disciples during the first part of these days, none of them could truly know how He was feeling.  And how isolated He was during the time between His betrayal and His death.  How even He felt forsaken by God during those moments.  I think of His physical exhaustion and pain and weakness.

Heavy.  Slogging through each breath.  Grief.  Loss.

 

But then, this week, in the midst of all this reflection and feelings of loss, I’ve found myself gently reminded that, despite all of this, despite the betrayals and denials, the loneliness and the fully human emotions, He loved us until the end.

That is what it all boils down to: Love. To the end.

He Loved us through our fears.  Through our uncertainties and doubts.  Through the times that we’ve turned away and cursed at Him.  Through the times we have failed to love others.  He loved us through all of those things, through His own pain and exhaustion, to the end.

And he calls us to Love others in the same way He loved us.  Through the fear and uncertainty and failures, until the very, very end.  Even when we feel heavy, when we are slogging through each breath, through grief and loss – the call is to Love.

Loving our neighbors feels weird right now – through social distancing and dropping off rolls of toilet paper, and text messages and video chats.  We love our neighbors through gathering for church in our living rooms instead of our sanctuaries.  We love our neighbors, if we can, by paying gym memberships and dance class fees for locations we haven’t visited in a full month.  We love our neighbors by teaching our parents how to order groceries online, and how to connect with zoom video calls.

And its hard and weird and heavy.  And there is a pull at our hearts for the normalcy of the world we used to know, and urgent ache to go back to when we knew our jobs were certain and our hospitals weren’t overflowing and doctors could cure most illnesses and we could hug our friends.  I don’t know when that will be, like everyone else I want it sooner rather than later.

But this Holy Week I’ve been reminded, that the call is to Love as Jesus loved.  And He loved us until the end.

Heavy.  Slogging through each breath. Grief.  Loss.

And absolute pure and gracious Love to the very end.

“Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” – John 13:1 NIV

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One thought on “Holy Week: Love to the End

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  1. Thank you Julia, I will read this aloud to my sister in the morning who loves her church and worshipping and now, like everyone, has to watch online services.
    I know your words are so beautifully written and heartfelt that they will resonate with how she’s feeling on Easter Sunday being home, away from her church family.
    Sending love and prayers for a Happy Easter.

    Liked by 1 person

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