Where I grew up, most everyone I knew went to church—actually I should clarify—most were members of church which may or may not have meant they actually went to church. I only had one good friend whose family did not belong to a church and had never been baptized.
One year I decided to invite my friend to Good Friday worship with me. The service was a tennebrae or seven last words of Christ service, as it was every year. We sang all the “dreary” Good Friday hymns, extinguished candles, heard the choir and left the service in silence. When we left, I wondered what she thought.
Her first words after it was over? Can I go to that with you again next year? We continued to go each year until we graduated, but she didn’t want to go to any other service.
I think about this often, and in many ways it summarizes what makes Holy Week holy for me. During Holy Week, we tell the saddest story ever told. It is about death. No one talks much about death in our world, and yet we all experience it—or other very hard things in our lives. But during Holy Week, we walk together through death, and we are reminded that we are not alone. And that death does not get the final answer. That was a message my teenage friend certainly needed to hear, and really, don’t we all?