Holy Week Reflections 2020
Longing for Lamb
My Holy Week Reflection in the midst of a Pandemic
Gospel of Truth 17:8-16 (A New New Testament Translation)
Rev. Stephanie A. Duzant
For as long as I can remember, I have always had at least one meal made with lamb during Holy Week. Growing up, my grandmother would make lamb for Easter and serve it with a little mint jelly on the side. I remember my mother making lamb chops with potatoes a few times. But the Lamb meal that I most fondly remember is the lamb that was served at St. Matthew’s Community A.M.E. Church of Hollis, Queens NY, during the Maundy Thursday Service.
For more than 15 years the Stewardess board would facilitate the meal and service. It was not a reenactment of the last supper, but a remembrance of it. Lamb, pita bread, lettuce greens, horse radish and an apple and nut mixture were the menu for the evening, to commemorate the food that was served during the Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. We would fellowship over the meal and then there was a reflection on what the last supper of Jesus meant to us as modern-day believers. The sacredness of this event within my faith community was never lost on me.
I moved to Nevada 6 months ago. I have worked hard to adjust to this west coast way of living. I have found new ways of keeping up my faith traditions. I fellowship with a wonderful A.M.E. Church here in the valley, and was ready to participate in all the Lent and Holy Week activities and then, Covid-19 hit. The Stay-At-Home order from the governor brought all of my grand plans to a screeching halt. In order to slow down the spread of this monster of a virus folks would have to stay in. No school, no work, no social gatherings, no church.
I was dealing with it fine until I got to Palm Sunday. I am grateful to be shut in with my immediate family, but I was missing my church family in NY and my church family in Nevada. I needed some familiarity, so I turned to what was handed down to me from generations of mothers before me. I would cook. I started looking at where I could buy a piece of lamb to carry on the ritual. Just then my family reminded me that eating meat was no longer good for my digestive system. I wanted to dispute them but I couldn’t because they were right. We have vowed as a family to do all we can to keep ourselves healthy and our immune systems as strong as possible so that if we did contract the virus, we would be able to have a fighting chance to beat it. My search for lamb abruptly ended.
I began to lament for my Holy Week lamb. Yet, it was really not the lamb that I was lamenting, but the loss of a faith tradition, and a way of life that was sweetly familiar to my soul. I was lamenting that I was far away from loved ones, and a place that I could no longer call home. A place where people I love dearly are battling a virus that is running rampant in their streets. I was lamenting the days of socializing and fellowshipping without restrictions, boundaries and cyber windows. I was lamenting a way of life I once found so tangibly familiar, that was now in its 4th week of my past.
At times I can only call familiar to these (because I have never been through anything like this before) I turn to sacred text for wisdom filled guidance and assurance. And of late, it has been text found in the Nag Hammadi that has taken my Blessed Assurance to new depths of understanding.
“For what is the sabbath? A day on which it is inappropriate for salvation to be idle. Speak of the day from above which has no night and of the perfect light that does not set. Say then from the heart that you have the perfect day and within you dwells the light that never ends. Speak of the truth with those who have sinned through their transgressions. Strengthen the feet of those who stumble and stretch your hands to those who are weak. Feed those who are hungry and give rest to the weary. Raise those who wish to arise and awaken those who sleep - for you all are understanding drawn forth. If strength does these things, strength becomes stronger.”
~~~ The Gospel of Truth 17:8-16, ANNT Translation
And just like that God speaks to my anxiety, anger and grief through this powerful portion of Early Christian text. Written at a time when Christianity as a religion, and the church as an institution were still new and in development. The writer is believed to be Valentinus by some scholars, who was deemed a heretic after leaving the Catholic church to start his own group in the 2nd Century.
The writer reminds folks that the sabbath is not just a mere day that centuries of Jewish law has told us it was. The sabbath is every day, because there is no day that is appropriate for salvation to be idle. The text reminds us that the light that never ends is within us, and that we should use that light to encourage ourselves and those around us, for that is how the strength within remains and gets stronger.
Yes, things are changing and there is trouble and uncertainty everywhere, but in this Sankofa moment within my 2020 Holy Week, I am to strengthen my faith by never forgetting that although there will be no lamb to eat this weekend, the Lamb of God is always with me. Even when traditions have to be let go of, and new ways of being have to be embraced. In times like these, I am to share the Lamb in any and all ways now possible. That gives me hope, and hope gives me strength to adjust in any way I need to, to keep me and my faith alive.
So, I will welcome the Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday Sunrise Service live streams. I will welcome all the Zoom conferences and meetings, the teleconference prayer line calls; and all the Facetime, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger video calls and group chats that I can get. For where two or three are gathered, God is surely in the midst. And those are the midst that matter the most to our everyday living.
Imagine, a text once deemed heresy and unorthodox, now being the saving grace of my Christian Spirituality. Times are definitely a-changing…and thank God, I am here for it!
Copyright © 2020 Stephanie A. Duzant.