The three big days of Holy Week are normally Maundy Thursday with foot washing, and the last supper, and the stripping of the altars, Then Good Friday when we remember Christ's crucifixion and then Easter Sunday where with Fire and noise we proclaim that Jesus is alive.
This year I will focus on other things because I want us to be congruent. Easter Sunday won't be noisy, nor will it be celebrated in our Church building, Maundy Thursday will not include the journey to the Cathedral to receive Holy oils, nor will there be any foot washing or eucharist, Our lives are a little different at the moment. I will be reflecting on the Cross, on Holy Saturday I will be thinking about the plundering of hell and on Easter Sunday I will focus on hope emerging unnoticed, on the experience of the Disciples behind locked doors, still fearful and the risen Christ who speaks our name, softly and gently so that we can recognise him once more.
Good Friday brings us to Jesus on the Cross, artists have on the whole given Jesus a loin cloth that he would not have had on the day in order to keep things decent. The cloth offers no real protection, but it is a gesture. The face of Christ is unprotected from spit, or blood or sweat and in this he reminds me of those who are working in the NHS, a flimsy plastic apron is more symbolic of protection than actually any use, and faces are left exposed. We maybe less angry about this than we should be, we are moved by the heroic sacrifice rather than asking the question Jesus asks from the Cross, "Why?" Jesus death is not supposed to give us an arch-type for heroic sacrifice it is supposed to be the end of sacrifices. When we see our NHS staff and key workers left inadequately protected the right response is anger.
The picture at the top reminds us that we are living in a Holy Saturday moment, staying at home, behind shut doors, often fearful about what is going on outside, just as the Disciples were. But Jesus according to ancient Christian tradition is busy, he is plundering hell, that those trapped there might be freed to fullness of life in God's kingdom and the work of the NHS staff and key workers comes to mind as they care for us and fight this virus for us, they are truly heroic and their health and safety must not become an acceptable sacrifice that inspires rather than outrages us.