Holy Week Justice


By Tash McGill

It’s Holy Week, my favorite time of the liturgical year. I love that the Passover has begun for my Jewish friends and life is sliding towards a few days of rest and reflection. In my part of the world (New Zealand), everything closes on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In a largely post-Christian culture, these are sacred days. Stores don’t open, restaurants stay closed. Only churches, hospitals and gas stations stay open – so you can get to church and the hospital. But the innate sacredness of Holy Week is still there, just under the surface. There’s something about this time of year that is held dear.

‘Sacred’ has a variable definition – for some, it’s sacred family time before the school term break. For many youth groups, Easter is the highlight of the event season with youth camps and special events happening all over. For others, it’s just a welcome respite from the beginning of the year.

On the first night of Passover, my friend Kate wrote that this is the annual reminder that where this is still slavery, there is no justice or freedom. This sentiment is thousands of years old but is still as true today as it ever was. Across the world this Holy Week, thousands live under slavery and fear while we will gather our youth ministries for Easter pageants and Easter egg hunts in the church yard.

On Easter Sunday, we will break bread and share wine (more likely, grape juice) and remember that Christ is risen and we hold within us a promise of justice, of peace, of freedom. We eat and drink, sharing in the world’s most hopeful meal. One that was formed from another, older sacred meal. Both carry the cry for justice, the prayer of hope.

When we participate in the 30 Hour Famine, we participate in this sacred, hopeful prayer. We willingly experience hunger because of those who experience hunger. When we share in the communion meal, we ought to come to it as hungry as we come to that first meal after Famine. Hungry not just for nourishment, but for the risen Christ to restore justice and freedom to the earth.

The Passover meal became the hopeful prayer of the Jewish people and their expression of that prayer – that God would rescue them from oppression and slavery. This Easter, I pray you and your ministries would engage again in a holy hunger for freedom for slaves and from oppression. Read again the story of Holy Week, of the Jesus who threw merchants and money traders from the temple grounds. The Christ who offered sanctuary and redemption to the thief next to him and shared a meal with his disciples. As you share a sacred meal together, may you pray for peace, freedom and justice.