On Palm Sunday, Christians commenced Holy Week, which culminates on Easter Sunday. Jews are currently celebrating Passover, which began at sundown on Wednesday evening.
The reality of celebrating Holy Week from our homes instead of our respective congregations may seem glum, but our current crisis makes the true meaning of these holy days all the more apparent.
Passover represents the “passing over” of God’s chosen people from slavery, oppression and despair in Egypt, to freedom, light and hope in Israel.
For Christians, Holy Week recalls Jesus’s “passing over” from torture, rejection, defection of his closest followers, temptation to despair, his Passion and the death that first Good Friday, to life, light and victory on Easter Sunday.
For the Jews and for Christ, these events that would come to be so meaningful, were at the time, tragic and tested their faiths. They faced anguish, adversity, danger and risk. But, God came through for them.
Fear is useless; what is needed is trust.” (Luke 8: 50; Mark 5: 36)
In this time of fear and isolation, all we can do is trust in our faith, in our community, in the heroes that are fighting on the frontlines for us every day — that we too, will get to the other side of this crisis. That soon, this virus will also pass over, and we will enter a time of great healing.
In his message ahead of Holy Week on Friday, Pope Francis said: “Thought and spirit can go far with the creativity of love.” And that is just what we have seen from churches and synagogues across the country, as they move their worship services to online platforms.
Many Jews are also having to get creative in the ways they arrange their seder plates and embrace technology (which for some, is usually not allowed during Passover).
Rabbis and families are hosting virtual seders, some extending their seders to family members across the world who they may have not thought to include before. And amongst the Jewish community I live in, I have heard several sentiments of “the plague didn’t stop us before!”, referring to the 10 plagues God inflicted upon the Egyptians.
While it may feel strange to celebrate during this time, these reminders of faith and resilience are what we need most.
Here are some of the local churches and synagogues in Chicago that are offering virtual holy week services:
(ELCA) Wicker Park Lutheran Church, Chicago – Find information here. “Come join us for a festive celebration of our God who dispels our fear of uncertainty and death. After all, we probably need Easter this year more than ever before!”
On Easter Sunday, Italian global music icon Andrea Bocelli will also be giving a solo performance representing a message of love, healing, and hope to Italy and the world. It will be available live on YouTube.
Pope Francis will also be live-streaming Easter Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The service kicks off at 4:55 a.m. ET.
Lakewood Church, the Houston-based megachurch owned by televangelist Joel Osteen, will stream a Saturday night and Sunday morning Easter service with stars like Kanye West, Mariah Carey and Tyler Perry.
Also, arriving just in time for Holy Week, you can now stream the documentary “Holy City,” which offers immersive views of Jerusalem.
Madison Muller is a senior at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, learning to navigate the contemporary media environment with compassion and candor. She enjoys writing about health, travel, and humanity. You can always find her with a coffee in hand. Madison is a proud supporter of the National Eating Disorders Association.