Rev. Jill Duffield
Senior Pastor

Our Lenten journey transitions into Holy Week as we walk with Jesus in Jerusalem. Jesus will enlist his disciples to usher in this new era of grace and mercy. He will ask them to get the donkey, arrange for the room, eat with him, allow him to wash their feet, instruct them to love one another.

While we may have heard the story countless times, I invite us all to attend to Jesus’s near presence and ask to have a beginner’s mind, open to whatever the Spirit will reveal to us because Jesus didn’t just enlist disciples that first Holy Week, he calls on us now.

Every Holy Week I remember with gratitude a tiny Episcopal community right here in Greensboro, Saint Mary’s House. Grant and I attended there early in our marriage.

It was an eclectic group that met in a small house right off Tate Street. Members included university professors and graduate students, people who lived in College Hill and those with no permanent housing. We sat on sofas and had coffee during and after the service.

Despite its casual context, the worship was marked by high liturgy and sophisticated preaching. It was in this crucible that I experienced Holy Week in an embodied and transformational way. It was the first time I’d had my feet washed on Maundy Thursday, the first time I attended a Stations of the Cross service.

Yes, I’d heard the story my entire life, but not until I witnessed an artist erect a metal sculpture of Jesus on the cross as we crowded inside this house, did I feel the import of Christ’s sacrifice. It was in sitting around a table and passing a loaf of bread to the friend beside me that I had a sense of the love and pain of having a last meal with those closest to me.

I remember Easter being different that year. The joy of shouting “Christ has risen” came from a place of profound gratitude. The week’s services opened my heart to what must have been the disbelieving joy of the women when they first saw Jesus alive. I’d felt present, enlisted, engrafted into the story.

Sometimes we need to be shocked by the amazing grace that unfolds this week. We need to enter into the sorrow and the darkness in order to fully embrace the power of the resurrection.

Given that we’ve been unable to hold these services in person for several years, I think this is the year for us to experience anew the transformation of Holy Week.

I look forward to celebrating the Lord’s Supper, extinguishing the candles, bringing in the paschal flame, flowering the cross, praying, singing and worshiping with you this Holy Week.

May God open our hearts and minds to experience the Gospel anew this year. Come, be present, be enlisted and engrafted into the story so that you can leave to live it.