Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
I am in the midst of a very rare three-week stay here in Louisville, without any comings and goings to see what God is up to out and about in the church. Of course, there aren’t many churches or presbyteries or conferences to go to because of the centrality of Holy Week in the lives of local congregations.
This is my second Holy Week since coming to work for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, which means it is my second Holy Week without leading a congregation through the events of these pivotal eight days: Palm Sunday’s triumphal march into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday’s call to servanthood, Good Friday’s scorn and sacrifice, and Easter’s joyful victory. I miss deeply planning all of that worship—at the church where I served, over the course of this week we would have ten different services, with none offered more than once. It was exhilarating to enter into each aspect of Holy Week fully in the planning, and then in leading worship. It was an amazing privilege.
It was also an amazing burden. Lots of lots of details. Lots and lots of time and energy. Lots and lots of effort to greet and welcome as many visitors as possible. Lots of worry about how everything was going to come out. Lots of hours wrestling with sermons. It’s no wonder that one of my favorite seminary profs used to say that for pastors, Holy Week equals “Hell Week.”
So as I stay in Louisville this week, I’m praying for pastors. If you’re a pastor, know that I’m praying for you, and pray along with me for your colleagues in ministry. If you’re not a pastor, please pray with me for these servants during this joyful but often overwhelming week.
Lord Jesus, we lift up Christian leaders to you. Pastors, priests, vicars, preachers, and teachers, as they faithfully serve you during this Holy Week. We thank you that you use them in such powerful ways. By the power of your Holy Spirit, they help us to shout Hosanna as you ride into Jerusalem…to feast at the table you set for us at the Last Supper…to remember that the depth of our sin brought out the heights of your love on the cross…to live in the resurrection hope that you brought so long ago, and that you bring today.
We are grateful for them, and we pray for them. Give them energy, Lord Jesus. Give them a sense of peace in the midst of all the activity. Give them a smiling face for new friends and hugs and handshakes for every-week-worshipers. Give them patience and endurance and joy. Remind them that you speak through them; that their hard work on sermons and prayers and liturgies and dramas honors you and you honor it. Most of all, whisper in their ears again the story of your passion and resurrection…good news not just for their listeners, but also for them.
In your name, Lord Jesus, we pray. Amen.