Holy Week service to honor the last days of Jesus Christ

By Meghan Hendrickson

This week, all members of the Baylor community will have an opportunity to experience the final moments in the life of Christ, says Ryan Richardson, associate chaplain and director of worship.

The event is part of the second annual Baylor Holy Week Service, which will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the sanctuary of Seventh and James Baptist Church, located on 602 James Ave.

Students who are currently enrolled in Chapel can remove one of their Chapel absences from this semester by attending the service.

Dr. Burt Burleson, university chaplain and dean of spiritual life, said Christians have historically observed this time — the week prior to Easter — as Holy Week.

“Christians are invited to walk with Jesus as he moves through this week, which is so central to our understanding of who he is,” Burleson said.

Richardson, coordinator and facilitator of the service, said several local churches and college-centered ministries have collaborated to host the event, including: Baylor Spiritual Life, Wesley Foundation, Calvary Baptist Church, University Baptist Church, Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Waco and Seventh and James Baptist Church.

He also noted the service will be nothing like a “typical” church service.

“It’s really just a 50-minute journey that those in attendance get to go on,” Richardson said. “We walk with Christ [through his final week] together.”

Jared Slack, coordinator for worship and Chapel at Baylor, said the service will revolve around music and vignettes, which are read-aloud accounts of the historical events of Holy Week.

The service will be quiet and contemplative, Richardson said, as those in attendance will observe seven events that transpired over the final week of Christ’s life, such as Palm Sunday, Jesus in the Temple, the Last Supper, etc.

Concerning the service ambience, “lighting is low, and those in attendance are welcome to simply come, sit and reflect,” Richardson said.

Slack said he hopes the service will bring greater meaning to attendees’ Easter experience.

“For me, the cross is the reminder that Christ suffers with us and on behalf of us,” Slack said. “Many times in church, we like to rush to the Resurrection — to the joy of the Risen One — but we must also remember that Christ suffered brutality and isolation.”

Slack also said that as he observes Holy Week, he is reminded of the instability of his own worship and loyalty.

“I think we all need the reminder that one day, just like the crowds in Jerusalem, we can shout, ‘Hosanna,’ but in less than a week scream, ‘Crucify him!’” Slack said. “That’s the human predicament: One day we’re asking Jesus to be the Lord of our life, and the next day we might resent him for it.”

Richardson said the service aligns with Baylor’s Christian mission to integrate the pursuit of learning with the pursuit of truth.

“Our hope is that those who know Christ will catch a deeper glimpse of his life, and those who do not know Christ will be introduced, maybe for the first time, to the powerful narrative that unfolded prior to the Resurrection,” he said.