No other week in the Church year has so strong an aura of special devotion. The eight days from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday immerse us in the central mystery of God’s work of salvation through the Lord’s death and resurrection. Holy Week contains in itself not only the final days of Lent but also the celebration of the Passion of Christ. Holy Week falls into two distinct parts. Palm Sunday, Monday. Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week, and the day hours of Maundy Thursday complete our time of preparation. The Holy Communion of Maundy Thursday begins the Three Holy Days, or Triduum, which is completed at Evening Prayer (Vespers) on Easter Day. The services of these days form a single unit of celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection. The week thus faces both back to the very beginning of Lent, and forward to the 50-day celebration of the resurrection, which is sealed on the Day of Pentecost. -- page 191
"No other week" could've served as a more appropriate backdrop to a week in 2014 that I will never, ever forget due to the impression it left on me.
It was April 2014, and I had just accepted a new job and had to travel to Tamp, FL for three straight weeks of training away from my family -- during Easter!
I was a Christian for several years before I became a Confessional Lutheran so, of course, the week was already very meaningful to me (as it is for all of us). However, Easter 2014 was different. It was a "new beginning" of sorts for me personally.
Here's a small bit of what I wrote at the outset of the business trip that would truly change my life for the better causing me to look back on it annually with such fond memories...
Please pray for me and my family. No, I know we have nothing to complain about when you think of military families and how long loved ones are typically apart in that case, but this will be the very first time that I'll be away from all of them for any extended period of time, and the thought of me being gone for 3 full weeks is a bit of a shock to our systems. Plus, I'll be away during Holy Week and Easter and won't be able to head home even for that weekend to celebrate with them! That being said, I'm also going to have to find a local LCMS Church to attend while I'm down there. I've done a little research already, but the thought makes me both a little nervous and excited. Obviously, I don't want to stumble into an apostate congregation where CoWo and "Your Best Life Now!" is all the rage, but I'm also excited at the possibility that I might finally get to see and hear what a confessional and faithful LCMS Church might look and sound like during their Traditional Worship Service this time of year. Who knows, maybe my experiences will give me something good to write about here in my spare time. In the meantime, I'll be spending most of my free time calling, emailing, and texting my wife and kids. In a Lutheran layman's terms, please pray "Thy will be done" in our lives while I'm away.
What made that year particularly special was that it was going to be my very first Easter celebrated as a Confessional Lutheran and that generated all sorts of new emotions and new thoughts within me that year.
I don't intend to add any new commentary other than to simply let the few posts I wrote and published during those few weeks away (in the order I wrote and publish them) speak for themselves.
Three years later, and I still think about that week.
I think about how Kyle's doing and I think about how Pastor Schermbeck and that small, but faithful Lutheran church is still getting by out in Tampa, FL. I think about how I hope they know that I care about them both even though our paths crossed for such a brief period of time.
In the weeks that followed my return home, this is the gist of what welcomed me with open arms...
It didn't take long for me to conclude what must be done. I returned home with a heavy heart, but a resolve to find a church like that one for me and my family to attend, because it was all about Christ Jesus. Even so, I've been attending my home church since coming home. Let's just say that differences between the two have been plain as day.
At least I still had the open arms of my Lord and Savior, and the open arms of my family and friends to welcome me home, even if I no longer had the open arms of my home church and fellow brothers and sisters there.
The words "no other week" have a dual meaning for me now. I never thought I could appreciate Holy Week more until I attended my very first Divine Liturgy and true "Traditional Worship Service" two years ago in Tampa, FL that put Jesus Christ front-and-center.
In short, I thought I knew what Christ-centered and cross-focused preaching and services were, but I had no idea whatsoever. Now I do. Thanks be to God!
Looking back, I am so grateful that the Lord provided me with such a beautiful gift; the gift of salvation through His Son's death and resurrection and the gift of a faithful Pastor and church.
Looking forward, I am so grateful that the Lord has continued to blessed me and my family with those very same gifts here today.
I am blessed because of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am blessed because of His faithful under-shepherds He's given to feed sheep like me in His Church.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, "no other week" will ever have the eternal impact on my life that this week will forever have year after year!
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Executive Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!