Holy Week during a pandemic is an echo of Holy Weeks past. It is church-via-Zoom on Palm Sunday, my younger children marching around our living room waving palm branches while the rest of us sing weak “Hosannas”. It is waving at my older and more fragile fellow worshippers through the safety of a screen. It is me weaving palm leaves like every year, only to discover that this time, instead of a cross, I am weaving myself a face mask.
Holy Week during a pandemic is eating soup at home on Maundy Thursday, away from friends and family. It is realizing that our cousins of other faiths are celebrating their holidays–Pesach, Vaisakhi, Hanuman Jayanti–also quarantined at home. It is honouring our shared dignity and shared vulnerability, the latter made so clear in this disease spread ’round the world. It is praying for and giving to those for whom quarantine has meant hunger and starvation.
Holy Week during a pandemic is wondering if Good Friday will be a blessing or a burden; if commemorating the torture and death of Christ will comfort us because God is intimately acquainted with and close to those of tortured breath. It is being compelled to pray more heartily for those who lay down their lives these days for the sake of the rest of us: doctors, nurses, pharmacists; grocery store clerks, truck drivers, and farmers; shelter workers, food bank managers, and the rest.
Holy Week during a pandemic is walking tentatively towards Easter; it is the tomb being brought to us. It is Easter egg hunts inside and Zoom-church after and singing and feasting because Christ is still risen, even now.
Holy Week during a pandemic is being desperate for resurrection. It is finding strength in the One who defeated death. It is people around the world praying for a vaccine and trusting that, at the end of this, there will be normal life again. And that, with God’s help, we will do better by each other and our world than had the pandemic never come.
Kadee Wirick Smedley is a lifelong storyteller and ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. She currently serves as a chaplain for at-risk and homeless youth. Kadee lives with her family in Vancouver, BC.