‘Surprise is the greatest gift life can grant us.’ ~ Boris Pasternak
I have served at Zion, Waukon for 7 years and every time Holy Week rolls around I have the same people ask if they can read the same piece of scripture that they read at the Tenebrae meal the last year, for however many meals those same scriptures have been read. Although I have changed up the outline of the service, the hymns that were sung, the translations that we use I still get the question from the same saints of the church right around this time of year, ‘Pastor I’d like to read …’.
I would venture a guess that many churches have similar people within their walls. And that as your services for Holy Week start getting planned or start getting underway that there is little surprise to who will volunteer to read what scripture.
Even though I feel bewildered by these congregants who insist on reading and enacting the same piece of the story year after year I too struggle with this. Instinctively. I feel like it is safer if I can keep the story contained. If I can put the hard parts of the passion narrative in little boxes and open them up when I’m ready for them. I can easily file them away as good and worthy of my time or challenging and unworthy and save them for when (or if) I’m ready.
That has been the most comfortable path, but it also leaves little room for the Holy Spirit to show up and surprise us.
And it also leaves little room to fully appreciate the scope of the resurrection story and the death of Christ. Which is why for me it’s important to earnestly try to change this instinct and to be open to the surprises that the season of lent, specifically the surprises that Holy week and the passion narrative bring to the understanding of the Easter story.
I’d be interested in hearing you all engage through the comment section about how you will, or already are being intentional about allowing this season to surprise you this year.
—Reverend Samantha Houser, Waukon Zion UCC and Iowa Conference Program Support/Adjunct of Youth Ministry