I am looking forward to our week together as we move from today's Palm Sunday celebration to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. I think about our opportunities to gather for worship each day (and multiple times on some days!). I think about our opportunities to be with our young people (on Wednesday evening, Thursday evening, and Saturday morning) to encourage and teach them about the importance of this week. I think about our personal reflections in scripture and daily devotions to walk each day of this week with Jesus.
As I think about Jesus' final days, I reflect upon the persecution that he faced. And Christians throughout the ages and in various parts of the globe have suffered in the name of Christ. Non-believers simply cannot accept Jesus as fully God and fully man. They cannot accept his grace, love, and mercy. The novel/movie Silence helped to illustrate this reality of rejection, and just this morning we read or heard about Coptic Christians in two different locations in Egypt who were killed in their houses of worship as the result of a terrorist strike from non-Christians. Also, last week I received an email from English clergy friends who are currently serving an Anglican Chaplaincy in Sicily and they expressed that they don't feel safe wearing their clergy clothing in Palermo. We live in times where persecution of Christians makes our headlines and it is something we should consider with prayerful hearts. The world in which we raise our families is global and we can't forget that.
My reflection today then is this...can we bear with brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer persecution in the name of Christ and pray for them? As Jesus said to Peter and his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Could you not watch with me one hour?" Jesus was calling them and he is calling us to stay alert and awake to what God is doing in the world around us. During this journey toward and into Easter, let us open our eyes to see what God sees (in our families, our community, and around the world!) and pray for redemption, restoration, and resurrection in the name of Christ.