In my faith tradition, we do Holy Week in a big way. There have been services every night this week. Holy Week has always been a special week for me, full of emotion, reflection, and worship. Living in Honduras has changed Holy Week for me in profound ways. For example, I find myself having to focus a bit harder on the solemnity of the services as we move towards the Crucifixion. You see, Easter (by that I mean the Risen Lord and His promise of salvation) pops up all the time in Honduras. You see miracles – sudden miracles and miracles in the making. You see the redemptive love of God in the faces of the children and in the dedication and sacrifice of the staff. You see Suzy following the Lamb wherever He goes…even when I wonder how she can possibly do one more thing or take in one more child. Not to be sacrilege but it is kind of like that Wack-a-mole game. You try to keep it hidden, put it aside during this week, to focus on the events that led up the Resurrection. But, POP, up jumps a memory or an image or a feeling of joy. During Lent, and especially Holy Week, we are not supposed to say “Alleluia” during the services. I am normally a disciplined Episcopalian and smirk when others forget. Yet, this week twice it has burst out of my mouth. I push it down here and it pops out there! I just couldn’t help it. Easter just popped right up and flew out of my mouth. It is just too hard to suppress! Alleluia!
Monday night, we heard about Mary anointing Jesus’ feet. (John 12:1-11) Immediately, in my mind’s eye, I saw the safe house girls dancing to “Pefume a Tus Pies.” It is a beautiful song that includes:
“With all that I have and that I am,All I’ve been, I give to youMay my life be to you as a perfume at your feet”
What moved me to tears was that the girls, just months away from living hell, were compelled to share this with a team. They had worn dresses to dinner one evening. Suddenly they ran up to me, “Amanda, can we borrow some pants???” I gave them my work pants (i.e. Target pajama pants) that were several sizes too big for them. So, in these funny, baggy pants, they shared their hearts and their love for Jesus with a group of Northamericans from Pennsylvania. They had to. Easter just popped out of them. Alleluia!
Tuesday night Gospel reading included this verse:
“While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” John 12:36
I am surrounded by children of light – children of God, of all ages. My mind was flooded with images of God’s precious children. Of Ronald, an Alonzo member, who told me his dream is to work with children and lead them to God. Of Jasmine who, through God’s help, traded drugs for praise songs that she sings as she mops our office floor. Of Gloria, Casa LAMB housekeeper, who falls on her knees to pray for a sick Maribel. Of Dunia, beautiful Dunia who has rediscovered that she is a beloved daughter of the Risen Lord. Of Daniel, who is becoming
becoming a child of light more and more each day. Alleluia!
Wednesday was Stations of the Cross in which we moved throughout the church remembering the Passion of Jesus. At one station, we remembered Mary, Jesus’ mother, and her anguish as her beloved son was suffering. At another we remembered Simon of Cyrene who carries the cross for Jesus. At another, Veronica who wiped Jesus’ blood soaked brow. Again, I am flooded with memories. Most recently, the memory of Arely’s office crowded with women to break the terrible news to one of our girls that her mother had died. We wept with her, held her, prayed for her. We rejoice with each other so often, there is so much joy in our lives. But there is pain, sorrow, fear and tragedy. We come together, crying, in agony, supporting one another in the knowledge that sorrow will not have the last word. Jesus, who lived, died, and rose again for us, Jesus will have the last word. Alleluia!
Tonight was Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper. The Garden of Gethsemane. The Betrayal. The Arrest. The Beginning of the End. No – The Beginning of the Beginning. During the service we sang and reflected upon a hymn with this chorus:
Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love,
show us how to serve
the neighbors we have from you.
My neighbors began filing through my heart. Not the expected neighbors – my magnificent children, family, friends, parish family, co-workers at LAMB, not even the SBV children I love so deeply. No, this parade of neighbors caught me by surprise. The Lord reminded me that neighborhoods are the places you encounter God’s beloved. A neighborhood may last just a moment – the time it takes to smile at a stranger, or the time it takes to pull some lempira ($) from a wallet to give to a poor, disabled man, or the time it takes to say a silent prayer for someone in obvious need. These are my neighbors and the neighborhoods in which I live. The Lord gives me never ending neighbors in momentary neighborhoods, never ending opportunities to show Him I love him. Alleluia!