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Holy Week

We have been focusing on the core value of ‘Holiness’ this month. So since the week leading up to Easter Sunday is known in the Christian world as ‘Holy Week’, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the significance of this particular week with you and how it applies to the work we do with folks who live in our shelters. I won’t be writing something for every day this week. Instead, I’ll introduce the idea of Holy Week today and then write something daily on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

Today, the day following Palm Sunday, is known as Holy Monday. On Palm Sunday we remembered Jesus’ final entry into the sacred city of Jerusalem. We are reminded of how He humbly entered Jerusalem on a donkey, how people lined the streets, chanting praises to Him and laying their palm branches at His feet as a symbol of the respect they had for Him.

But on Holy Monday we begin to see it unravel. The same people who praised Him on Palm Sunday have begun to turn on Him. The people in power start to squirm because they knew how influential He is. The powers that be begin to plot his murder; to rid themselves of this threat to their control. Holy Monday is also meant to remind us that if we had been there, we would have turned our backs on Him too.

And Jesus is very aware of all of it! It’s all part of His bigger plan.

Holy week is a time for us to remember Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. One way to define the word holy is ‘set apart’. This week we set apart time to consider all of the events leading up to Easter and their significance to us today.

So my question is this: how are the events leading up to Easter actually relevant to us today?

Holy week is where we really see how Jesus gave Himself freely for others, which came at a great cost to Himself; sacrificing his own life. He was mocked, beaten, scorned and betrayed by one of His closest friends, all for the sake of the suffering world around Him.

Most of us in this profession have suffered for the sake of others too. Sometimes people look down at, or even mock us for choosing to help those who live on the street. Some people can’t fathom why we’ve chosen these jobs when we could earn more money in the corporate world.

Sometimes we’ve gone the extra mile to help someone, only to feel betrayed when they turn everything around and throw it back in our face. Sometimes we suffer when someone we’ve grown close to, either at work or on the street, dies (this winter has been particularly horrendous when we think of how many people connected to our shelters have died). This week we also lament the closure of Hope shelter due to circumstances beyond our control. This is hard work and it costs us.

But we know it’s the right thing to do when we see all of the injustice around us. We carry on because even though Hope shelter is closing tomorrow, our hope is not lost; we know that the hope of Easter is coming. We keep caring for others because we know that they need us, and we also need them. This is who we are and we don’t back down, no matter what.

So on this Holy Monday, let’s be set apart from our critics and continue to do our best to be ‘The Hand of God in the Heart of the City’.

Dion Oxford

Director of Mission Integration

Dearest Lord,
During this Holy time for so many, we pause to remember that your light can never be extinguished. Help us to believe in this truth so that we may live lives that display your eternal illumination.

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