A famous Holy Week preacher in the 1930s used to begin his sermon on Good Friday by saying to the congregation, “If you don’t have a migraine by now you are not praying hard enough.” He was suggesting that during Holy Week we need to wind ourselves up to a new intensity of feelings, forcing ourselves to experience the journey to the Cross.
This seems to me to be exactly wrong.
The story of Holy Week is certainly central to our faith as Christians, but it is not meant to unsettle us or make us distressed.
Most scholars believe that the account of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus were the earliest parts of the Gospels to be written, as the first Christians wanted to be sure that they remembered all the details of what had happened. Each part of the story, from the seamless robe of Jesus which he took off at the Cross to the crowing of a cockerel, had significance to them.
We should approach Holy Week with a gentle openness to what God wants to share with us during this time.
It can help to imagine ourselves as part of the crowd. What new thing do we notice? What surprises us about what is happening?
So, no headaches in Holy Week, but a thoughtful thankfulness for God’s love for us shown in Christ.
The Dean of Sheffield Cathedral