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The Purpose of Holy Week – A Reflection by the Archbishop of Canterbury

April 2, 2012

In this week, the holy is redefined and recreated for us. The temple is rebuilt as the body of the crucified Christ, not a place of exclusions, a house of merchandise where we must barter to be allowed in, trading our daily lives, our secular joys and pains for the sacred currency of ritual and acceptable pure gifts that will placate God, but the cross by the roadside, unfenced, unadorned, the public and defenseless place where God gives us room.

Holy Week, with all its intensity of ritual and imaginative elaboration, comes paradoxically to break down the walls of self-contained religion and morality and to gather us around the one true holy place of the Christian religion, Jesus himself, displayed to the world as the public language of our God, placarded on the history of human suffering that stretches along the roadside. This is a week for learning – not management, bargaining, and rule-keeping, but naked trust in that naked gift.

(This quote is from Archbishop Rowan Williams’ book, A Ray of Darkness, pages 45-46, 48. The picture at the top of this posting is of the Crucifixion Window of Emanuel First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lansing, Michigan.)

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