Wk 6: Dwelling With Christ in Holy Week



This is a lovely day by day devotional from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. I’m realizing I’m reaching over to the UK for many of these Holy Week resources. I have many friends over there. This particular resource is from the Northern Ireland Bible Society. I love it for its rootedness in Scripture and the beautiful digital art that accompanies it. You can take 5 minutes or an hour with it. Use it as is best for you.

Women of Holy Week by Dr. Paula Gooder. Paula is a remarkable theologian and wonderful speaker. I have been on a retreat with her, and even met her for a zoom coffee at one point. I highly recommend this series of podcasts, which the Church of England has made very easy to find. Just return to this page and click on the link. All of the recordings are here for you to listen to.


(Note on purchasing Women of Holy Week: You can purchase a paperback or kindle edition on Amazon, but don’t do it through the Church of England website, because you will wind up on amazon.uk. Let me tell you from personal experience, you do not want to do this! If you see the price in British pounds, run! Go to your regular Amazon site and all will be well.)


Love in that liquour sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as blood; but I, as wine. (George Herbert, The Agonie)

Ubi Caritas (Maundy Thursday, 2010)

I had the most extraordinary experience on Maundy Thursday.  I was playing the piano for the small church where I presently worship.  It is part of the complicated map of American Anglicanism that regularly rearranges itself in this era.  I have a deep love for the beauty and truth of this prayer book tradition, even as I ache for the many storms that blow hard across her bow. 

While I am presently in safe waters, there have been seasons where I wasn’t sure I would survive some of those storms.  And it wasn’t long into this Maundy Thursday service that I recognized survivors from a past church split were present with us in that sanctuary.  That dynamic isn’t uncommon in this Anglican age—this one just happened to be personal: I lost a great deal in that particular storm, and have not worshipped, let alone assisted in leading worship, with the brothers and sisters who chose to board the other ship over a decade ago. 

So here I am, leading a beautiful version of Ubi Caritas praying that “all division may cease under the Lordship of our Prince of Peace” with the tears streaming down my face.  “This hurts, Lord.  I will wash these friends’ feet, but I lost so much in that storm.  Only you know…”

And as I played, I was comforted by this phrase in John 13:33-34 “Where I am going you cannot come. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

There are places I am called to go with Jesus: one of them is to wash the feet of brothers and sisters with whom I share a painful past.   In this instance that looked like playing as beautifully and meaningfully as my fingers and heart would allow for the remnant of a church that had once torn apart the fabric of my own life.

But there are places I cannot go.  Betrayals that are too life-altering for me to straddle, pain too heavy to bear.  And I am unspeakably comforted by the truth that, while the call to love takes me deeper than I ever imagined possible, Jesus went to the cross precisely because there are places I cannot come.  He alone was able to bear that awful load.  And He gives me life on the other side of the chaos and destruction. 

I cried hard after that service.  But the tears were healing.  I was grateful for what I was granted the grace to do…and for realizing anew that there are places only Jesus could go.  And the pain of the past rests on his shoulders so that I might lean into love with my heart directed to the future. 


These poems are so powerful. They are accessible: you don’t need to be a poetry geek to understand them, (although if you are poetry geek, you’ll love them.) They are vivid and honest, and help us engage more deepl in Jesus’ steps to the cross.


Here is an article on Malcolm Guite that you might find interesting as background for his poetry.


Christ, as a man in the days of His ministry, shows a complete mastery of anxiety, and this distinguishes Him from us more than any other facet of His character. Yet Christ as Redeemer in the week of His Passion bore upon His own Person and in His own Spirit every form of anxiety known to man or borne by him. Christ’s own being on the Cross contained all the clashing contrarieties and scandalous fates of human existence. Life Himself was identified with death; the Light of the world was enveloped in darkness. The feet of the Man who said ‘I am the Way’ feared to tread upon it and prayed, ‘If it be possible, not that way’. The Water of Life was thirsty. The Bread of Life was hungry. The divine Lawgiver was Himself unjustly outlawed. The Holy One was identified with the unholy. The Lion of Judah was crucified as a lamb. The hands that made the world and raised the dead were fixed by nails until they were rigid in death. Men’s hope of heaven descended into hell. He was deprived of all His rights, to be with us in our privation.” (Frank Lake, Clinical Theology)

The cross is the Abyss of Wonders, the Centre of Desires, the Schole of Virtues, the Hous of Wisdom, the Throne of Lov, the Theatre of Joys and the Place of Sorrows.  It is the Root of happiness, and the Gates of Heaven… It is the Root of Comforts, and the Fountain of Joy.  It is the Supreme and Sovereign Spectacle in all Worlds.  It is a Well of Life beneath in which we may see the face of Heaven abov: and the only Mirror, wherin all things appear in their Proper Colors—that is, sprinkled in the Blood of our Lord and Savior. (Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations, 59)