A Double Eye Patch Fast for Holy Week!

Last night Jenny Rau and I went with our Confirmation class to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Frisco. It was a very meaningful service. In his homily, the priest challenged the church to fully participate in Holy Week. He recalled the disciples in the garden with Jesus as he prayed and later when he was arrested. As Jesus prayed, the disciples could not keep awake and pray with him. As he was arrested, they ran away for their own safety. The priest said, "Don't be like them. Stay with Jesus to the end. Join with him in his suffering this week." Hearing the priest last night in a different setting where I was participant and not leader, I was convicted. I had never connected the disciples' actions-or inactions-with my own during Holy Week. What could I do-or not do-to make sure I stay with Jesus this week?

Then Monday came, bringing with it the usual flood of email. I am sitting at home, trying to get things organized, knowing that we have five services over 66 hours this week. Knowing that for my own soul I need quiet and perspective this week. These next seven days are called Holy Week because they are about Jesus' final days, not my every days, and I could already feel the distractions, emotions, and stresses of everyday life pulling me away from the garden. A portion of Sunday's Easter text popped into my mind-I have been praying through it for weeks in anticipation: "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth..." (Colossians 3:2). Those are good words. I've decided to put them to work in my own small, radical way.

Starting this afternoon, I am unplugging from many of my daily distractions for the next seven days. Back in January during the Facebook/Twitter/technology series I acknowledged my dependence on my Blackberry and the Internet to remain plugged in to the world around me. I am ready to disavow that dependence for a few days to properly focus my heart and mind where they should be: on Christ. After all, meetings will be scheduled, emails will be answered, non-emergency calls returned-they can all wait until next Tuesday. If I am too overwhelmed by distractions that Holy Week becomes blurred, I have to wait another 50 weeks for it to come again. For my own good, I do not wish to wait.

My plan is to stay away from email, Facebook, Twitter, texting, non-emergency calls, TV (the Rangers' bullpen has made this much easier recently), etc. for seven days. After Easter Monday I will return to my normal routine. In the meantime, I will write in a prayer journal every day and publish some of the prayers on my blog next week. Read through the Passion stories of Christ (Matthew 26:1-27:66, Mark 14:1-15:61, Luke 22:1-23:56, John 13:1-19:42)at least once a day. From an actual Bible, not on the phone or computer. Read over and over, praying aloud and silently, the text for my Easter sermon (Colossians 3:1-17). Enjoy silence when it is near, listen to the voice of God in the ever-present Prosper wind, enjoy family and friends, eat good, healthy food, drink lots of water and with each sip remember my baptism, exercise for the good of soul/mind/body rather than trying to please a scale, walk the pews in an empty Sanctuary, praying for each person that will sit there on Sunday, writing letters of encouragement and invitation, bring Holy Communion to some of our saints, and more as I am led. I am not retreating from the world or people. I will see many of you Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights-hopefully all three-not to mention the Easter Egg Hunt Saturday and Easter Day worship Sunday.

I invite you to pray for me-or better yet, join with me-in this embrace of simplicity and reverence. We may not all be able to unplug in the same way, and we don't want to be Pharisaic during Holy Week, wagging our fingers at others or ourselves-but each of us can say no or not yet or wait until next week for a few things. And there are other things we can say yes to. Instead of playing in his soccer game this Thursday night, Miles will most likely be laughing hysterically in worship as he washes his Mom's or Dad's or brothers' feet and has his own washed.

This morning Linus came to me with a couple of pirate eye patches, wanting me to put both on. I could not see anything! It was a great metaphor for what I-and, I suppose, many of us-need this week. A double eye patch fast from distractions and noise for Holy Week. Let's remain with Jesus in the garden: awake, loyal, and ready for whatever comes next.