"Could you not watch with me one hour?", Jesus in Matthew 26:40
A new word was invented this week in a chat group as we discussed about the termination of a Christian radio project. The word "thanks-grieving" expressed our mixed feelings of gratefulness for a rich experience and grief over ending it.
Perhaps this word best describe our emotions in this season as society slowly recovers in phases, each marked by policy announcements by the authorities. If there are joyful moments, they are also quietly underlined by a sober realization of the quiet presence of suffering or deprivation in our midst. While some are able to adjust and recover, others are still going through hard times.
We also enter another Holy Week with these mixed feelings. Last year's was a slew of online videos as we adjusted to the circuit breaker which had barely started. We are indeed grateful that we can be gathered again this week.
One helpful way to understand the spiritual discipline of Holy Week in Church tradition are the measures which believers take to share in the suffering of Christ. For example, Saturday Vigil could be a long time of fasting over many hours with prayerful waiting. Good Friday events can also be long drawn out affairs.
While some may criticise these churches as being too ritualistic, we should pull back and reflect on why it is so difficult for us to set aside time to allow sobriety and even grief to take hold of us. And this will be especially needful as we go through Holly Week in a pandemic season. While we may be out and about, vaccinated and all, many societies are still suffering and struggling. What about those around us who have faced severe losses in the jobs or coping with serious illnesses? Isn't it right that we also learn to keep vigil and accompany them in our silence and prayers?
MPCC will have her own scaled down traditions for this week. Our Services are markedly shorter and simpler. But still, we can embrace them as important moments where we learn to keep vigil, where we keep a prayerful watch both for ourselves and others.
And yes, in doing so, we are responding to the haunting question which Jesus posed to his three beloved disciples:
"Could you not watch with me one hour?"