St. Finn Barr Weekly Bulletin
Week of March 29th - April 2nd
Dear St. Finn Barr Families,
As we enter Holy Week today, I pray that you would feel the true love that Jesus offered to all of us as he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, shared in His last meal with His disciples on Holy Thursday, and gave up his life on the cross on Good Friday.
It's humbling to think that all of the events Jesus walked through during his final week were for all of us. He selflessly lived his life, leading by example how we should care for one another, and sacrificed everything so that we could receive forgiveness and live in freedom with him.
I invite you to join me in today's reflection for Palm Sunday posted at the end of the Weekly Bulletin.
As a reminder, on Holy Thursday we begin our Easter Break. Please note that Holy Thursday (April 1st) is an Early Release Day, meaning our kindergarten and first-grade students will be dismissed at 11:30am and our eighth-grade students will be dismissed at 12:30pm. I will be sure to post a reminder of dismissal times on Wednesday evening.
We will not have school on Good Friday (April 2nd), and we will return from Easter Break on Monday, April 12th.
If anyone plans to travel over the Easter holiday, I ask that you remain vigilant in practicing safety protocols which include, social distancing, wearing a mask, and, if you travel outside of California, quarantining for ten days upon your arrival back home before returning to campus.
At the end of Easter Break, I will send a survey to families asking whether you traveled during break or not. Please take into consideration our entire community when answering the question. We have been so fortunate to make it to this point in the school year and not closing a single cohort due to COVID exposure. I credit this success to you and your honesty and diligence in following our safety measures. We have a few more months left in the school year, and, in order to end the year on a high note, I ask that you continue to follow our measures and continue to take the mitigation plan seriously.
Please continue to pray for Father McCain for his healing and comfort at this time.
I pray you all have a wonderful Easter holiday, that you feel a sense of renewal in this season, and that you and your families are able to truly relish the time to unplug and connect with one another in the celebration of hope and forgiveness!
It took me nearly half an hour to read the lections for Palm, or Passion, Sunday. There is so much going on: the march to Jerusalem, the woman with the alabaster jar, the final meal, the conspiracy, the betrayal, the trial, and the execution. In my church tradition, where the preacher can go on for 45 minutes, the prospect of a super long scripture reading is terrifying. Between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, there is a lot of story to tell, and there are many themes to explore. There is enough content here to develop a ten-episode emotional drama series for Netflix.
My home church did not follow the liturgical year with Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, etc. There was Christmas, and there was Easter. You may see palms in the sanctuary the week before Easter, but that was just a prelude to the big day. For a church that gathered on Sundays only, one could go from the Hosannas of Palm Sunday to the Alleluias of Resurrection Day, but miss all the passion in between. You could have palms and lilies, but no cross, no lamentation, no tomb.
Later, when I pastored a church that observed Lent, I discovered the ability of the Lenten season to communicate and celebrate the power of God's love as compassionate solidarity with us and the world. Amid the layers upon layers of encounters in the Passion story, we experience hope and jubilation, danger and disruption, and ultimately grief and despair. The readings end with a typical penultimate cliffhanger episode. We witness a lament, a final breath, a burial, and a sealed tomb. To be continued.
As a pastor, I wanted the congregation to experience the notion of God's solidarity with us in all seasons of life. Palm/Passion Sunday provided the stories and images to engage this experience. We began the service with a procession of palms, African drums, and Hosannas. We ended the service in silent recession, covering the altar in black. This practice deepened our appreciation of the power of God's steadfast love and solidarity with us in the suffering seasons of life. It also heightened our celebration of new life arising from a tomb, of which the seal has been broken open.
We are living in a very long moment of suffering around the world. Amid the pandemic, we are experiencing "all the things"—layers upon layers of grief, rage, and fear. Even with vaccinations presenting the opportunity of a new spring in our lives, we would be remiss if we did not hold space together to acknowledge the sustaining power of God's solidarity with us.
In the Passion story, we witness a God whose love for us is steadfast. In the passion of Jesus, we experience God's solidarity in our suffering. We see compassion running through the layers of grief, rage, and fear. It is a reminder and a resource for us as we seek to embody that compassionate solidarity with our lives, for that is what the call to steadfast love is about: a commission to experience, embody, and extend God's compassionate solidarity in every season of life.
- How has Lent awakened you to the reality of God's compassionate solidarity?