For many people Christmas is the high point of their year, but for me it’s Easter, or more accurately, Holy Week. At Christmas, Christ must share the attention due him with family, friends, shopping and decorating. During Holy Week, it’s all about him. At least, it’s supposed to be. For those of us in church traditions that make a big deal out of Holy Week, the sheer quantity of things that need to get done for Holy Week can distract us from its purpose, to walk with Christ through his passion, death and resurrection.
In other words, rather than the Christmas chaos of family and friends, shopping and decorating, I get caught up in publicity, service bulletins, invitations, web site updates and service planning.
Though my overall to-do list is long, yesterday’s “must do’s” looked like this:
Publish an email and start some online advertising for one of my clients,
“Stay with Jesus throughout the day.”
All day long I was bombarded with questions, edits and emails. At the end of the day, I had completed #1, did the first half of #2…but guess what happened to #3?
Staying with Jesus is hard because it cannot be accomplished in a whirlwind of activity. Jesus had to walk everywhere when he was here on earth. He may be running alongside me, but I don’t ever think to look and check, do you? And he’s not going to punch us like a grade school bully to get our attention, either.
Nope, in order to stay with Jesus—who, let’s be clear, is right here with us, right now—we have to look for him, or “raise our eyes” as the Psalmist says. For me, the only way for me to do this is to practice attentiveness. Here’s how I’m trying to do that this Holy Week:
Stick faithfully to my morning quiet time. Every single day, no cheating. Bill Hybels published a book called Too Busy Not to Pray [affiliate link] which makes the argument that when you are most stressed is when you can least afford to skip your prayer time. I have found this to be true. When I am running hard, when I feel the internal push to get on to the next thing—this is when I most need this spiritual nourishment to strengthen me to keep going.
Find ways to press PAUSE. Right now, my Gmail is paused. Yes, there’s an app for that. I can’t close it—I need access to it—but I can stop new email from coming in. It may be a trick I’m playing on myself, but pausing my In Box lets my mind relax as I write.I also try to take breaks throughout my day, around 10, lunch, late afternoon and dinner. I never think about my work or Holy Week at meals. To be honest, I completely zone out. But I need that mental break to recover & get ready for what’s next.
Know when to stop. Is anyone good at this? I’m not, but this is something my husband helps me with, reflecting back to me things like, “Hey, you look tired. Shouldn’t you stop for the day?”When the sun starts to set, that also is an automatic prompt for me: “Can I keep going? Or should I stop?” I can then pause (see #2), take stock of my work and fatigue levels and make a decision about how much longer to go for the day.
Glorify God. This is tricky, because it means keeping my mind on Christ, which I’m not doing very well right now. But in addition to my morning routine, I am also practicing the Examen when I go to bed to try & capture those places where God was glorified today, whether that was in my own work or simply something I observed. I may try and do noonday prayer next week, for the same reason.
How do you detach from the busy-ness of Holy Week (or life in general) in order to walk, watch and pray with Christ?