Friday, 30 March 2012
The Last Week - Reflections and Resources for Holy Week
Annie and I are off to St George's Edgbaston on Palm Sunday. Revd Stephen Barton who is secretary of the local Council of Christians and Jews and my colleague Mukti Barton's husband is preaching. He is also delivering a series of reflections for Holy Week at the church on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings based on Marcus Borg's and John Dominic Crossan's book The Last Week. Revd Julian Francis the vicar and one time colleague here at Queen's recently wrote about their plans for Holy Week in the Parish Magazine.
One of the key areas in which anti-Jewish Christian attitudes to Judaism can surface, is, of course, in the storytelling and liturgies associated with the passion of Christ i.e. in Holy Week and on Good Friday. Specifically, this often revolves around perceptions of Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus. Despite the obvious historical fact of the Roman occupation of Judea and Roman responsibility for Jesus’ execution, still the gospel accounts leave room first for other conclusions, and secondly, thereby, for the expression of anti-Jewish sentiment. There are complicated, multiple dynamics at issue in the death of Jesus. Yet this issue is one that returns year on year for us to think about and reflect on humbly. Every year we have the opportunity to revise our thinking, and take fresh steps to try and ensure that cherished Christian devotion does not have to be at the expense of causing further hurt and driving a deeper wedge between Christians and Jews in the contemporary world.
In response to some of these matters, I have asked the Rev Stephen Barton, a retired priest in the diocese, to come and share some thinking on Jewish-Christian issues in the passion story, both on Palm Sunday, and on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings of Holy Week. Stephen has a real desire to scrutinise Christian attitudes to Judaism in the interests of achieving more secure and respectful relationships in the present. As part of preparing for his visits to us, we have selected as one of our Lent books ‘The Last Week’ by Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan published by SPCK © 2006. I commend it as a very good introduction to these issues. Stephen will draw on material from the book in what he brings to us.
You can read a review of The Last Week here and a reflection for everyday of Holy Week based on a reading of the book here
Often during Holy Week Christian Churches consider having a 'Christianised' Passover meal on Maundy Thursday and I notice that the Iona Community has one such litugy on offer this year - a very good article by Revd Ann Fontaine at Epicopal Cafe argues strongly against such practice as an insult to our Jewish neighbours in Say No to Christian Seders and Rabbi Bruce Kadden takes a similar line in A Christian's Guide to Passover. Both articles refer to a piece in Biblical Archaeolgy Review which argues against the consensus in the Church that the last supper was a Passover Meal.
On wider issues related to the Celebration of Holy Week and inter faith relations check out the many resources and links at Etz Hayim/Tree of Life Website
Previous postings on Holy Week on this site which might be useful include Good Friday Reflection from last year and Good Friday Intercessions from 2009