In the Middle of Holy Week: Wednesday

Wednesdays are the days that are in-between the ones that have passed before and the ones that are yet to be. It’s the hump day of the week. Often, I will say, “If we can just through the hump day, the rest of the week is down hill. I doubt that Jesus felt this way, though. Down hill for Jesus in the middle of Holy Week meant the march to death and utter rejection. But on the Wednesdays of such weeks we pause, catch our breath before we move on and so forth.Wednesdays are the days we are caught in the middle. It’s the twenty year mark of the forty years spent in the wilderness. It’s how you feel when you’ve fed 2000 of the 5,000 waiting to be filled. You’d had a good start but you have a long, long way to go to finish. On Wednesday, there’s no getting around it, you’re in the middle of something. It's the day of your vacation that you finally can breath--finally know that all the work, all the packing, all the hassle might have been worth it. But, in the midst of it all you can also look up and feel like it's going to be over all too soon. The in-between days are days that can be monotonous and long. The in-between days are the days that right, smack dab in the middle of a long week and you know you’re not leaving on your trip yet for a couple more days. They are days of endurance. Like Jesus in the midst of what we now know is Holy Week, nothing really happened important on this Wednesday. But tomorrow, everything changes as it often does. Thursdays bring new challenges that only the weekends can forgive. Wednesdays are days to hang in there…not to go back because there is nothing in the past for us—only what lies ahead in the rest of the week. It is in the in-between times of our lives that so many of us fight with great fervor. In- between jobs; in-between houses, in-between churches and in between relationships. It’s a long, long day that has little stretch, give and significance. Wednesdays are like the middle child. Always accepting of the others and knowing one’s place the family of the other days of the week. It’s not a solid beginning nor does it have the drama of a last born day of the week or child. It’s a gentle day that can often go overlooked. I think it was one of those in-between days when David slept with Bathsheba, his mistress. When he was tired, bored and looking for love in all the wrong places. I think it was probably a Wednesday, when the disciples fought over who’d replace Jesus and who would be the greatest in the kingdom---the weekends would have brought responsibility, mission and focus. But Wednesday conversations allow us time to ponder what we would not ponder on other important days of the week—like on Monday morning when we’re headed out after the long, good weekend. Or some other really good time of the week that you find yourself looking forward to as the week unfold. As far as we know, the Wednesday before the Thursday of Holy week just may have been the day when Jesus went to the home of Mary—when she anointed him with oil. Jesus could have used that mid-week refreshment knowing that was lying ahead in wait for him. Go ahead. Sigh that deep breath out and take a break. It’s Wednesday—a long day to catch your breath and to eagerly look forward to what is going to unfold tomorrow. Because when tomorrow comes—when Thursday arrives—everything is going to be different—really different.On the Wednesday of Holy Week, we have a break before the intensity begins. Today, we stop, pause and sigh because we know what it's going to be like. It's going to be intense. Cruel. Vile and ugly and one needs a day like a Wednesday in order to prepare.Wednesdays begin the long vigil of waiting for the redemption. The redemption comes on Sunday but for now we have to just wait.  

The Jesus Vigil

We are approaching a horrible night. Everything turned south for Jesus on Maunday Thursday. His intent was to gather his closet companions to share a meal and to share time but in the end, everything changed. Jesus went from community to agony. It's a journey not so unfamiliar to many of us when we seek out our friends to be our solace only to find ourselves in total isolation.When Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, it became a sort of vigil. A time of watchfulness. A time of waiting. A time of looking into his own heart deeply and to hear from God. This is what a vigil is. It's a time of waiting.When the mother waits all night with her sick child...When a man waits to hear if he will get the job offer...When parents wait for a teenager to come home and it's after the curfew...When you wait to hear the results of the medical tests which you fear will not be good...I've been thinking about vigils since my pastor asked me to preach on this for our Maunday Thursday service tomorrow night. I"ll be leading our congregation at 1st Pres into a night of vigil.... a night of waiting... a time for desperate prayers.I've been able to remember four different vigils that I have experienced: the death of my mother-in-law, the night I begged God for my fourth son's life who was in the intensive care for 38 days and the doctors said, "Prepare for the worse."; the night I stayed awake all night when our first-born son was in the Iraqi war and doing convoys; and a night a couple of weeks ago when we got an unexpected bill from our contractor on work he had done on our big, red barn and there was no money to pay for it.You enter a vigil when you are over your head. The vigil reminds you that you have no control, no power, no might, no strength to change the outcome of what is looming in your mind and stirring up anxiety. Jesus entered his vigil and we must enter ours. The Jesus Vigil, however is the night we share the journey with Jesus and think through all that he was about to lose in order to gain what he could not grasp at that moment. Shortly, he would hang in suspension and that's what you do in a vigil.We hang in suspicion and wait. There in that wordless place we wait for the tenderness of God to give a peace that defies our understanding yet assuages every anxious feeling inside.Jesus, we will wait with you.By the way, join me at 1st Pres on Maunday Thursday at 7pm MT in person on on the internet at and you can view me speaking on The Jesus Vigil. I'd love your thoughts on any vigils you've witnessed that might help me with this message.This is my Lenten Journey!Stephen W. SmithPotter's