Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” – John 11: 16
Just when my spiritual journey seems stale, just when it seems that the path has faded and vanished, Holy Week arrives. It reminds me of my trek across the Dodson Trail in Big Bend last fall. Whenever a trail like Dodson is so little used, the trail tends to disappear from time to time. The grass grows, a flash flood will wash it out. Then while you are on it, miles from any help, you will be hiking along and you will turn around after walking for several minutes and realize you are no longer on the trail. Worse, you then realize you have no idea where you lost it or how long you have been going in the wrong direction. In such a lonely and desolate place fear is the first reaction. To go forward or right or left in search of the trail would be a mistake. There is only one solution. First you must stop. Then, you must go back. That is Holy Week. It is a time to go back until we find the trail again.
That is the place I found myself this evening. The first Bridegroom Service on Palm Sunday evening is always a time of retracing my steps and reframing my journey. Tonight I found my first tenuous steps backwards in the Praises of the Bridegroom service:
When the Lord was coming to His voluntary Passion He said to His apostles on the way: Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man shall be delivered up, as it is written concerning Him. Come therefore, let us also accompany Him, with minds purified, and let us be crucified with Him and die for Him to the pleasures of this life, that we may also live with Him, and that we may hear Him crying: No longer do I go to the earthly Jerusalem to suffer, but I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and unto My God and your God: and I will raise you up together unto the Jerusalem on high in the Kingdom of the Heavens.
There they are, the Hymn directs me toward my first steps back to the start. I imagine St. Thomas saying those words, “Let us also go, so that we may die with him.” Only, those words are not just for Thomas, or the 12. They are for all of us. Christ calls us this week to go with him, not to the earthly Jerusalem to die a physical death, but to crucify our old man, to die for Him to the pleasures of this life. That is the calling, that is the path that I now go to find again.
Behold the Bridegroom comes, in the middle of the night, and blessed is that servant who He shall find watching. Then unworthy is he whom He shall find heedless.
May I be found to be a worthy servant.