This week’s post is the final thoughts about Lent and Holy week. Each week during Lent we’re featuring a post by Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain, Lauren Sanders to support your own spiritual traditions and reflection. 

Lauren is a multi-faith spiritual care provider, which means her worldview tries to be open-hearted, supportive, and respectful. Her faith traditions that power her caregiving are some combination of Christianity and Indigenous ways of being and doing. Lent is a type of season for certain types of Christians. If your faith tradition doesn’t have a “Lenten Season”, please join us anyway as we journey through this false-spring, where we swing between winter’s finish and spring’s allergies. We are learning how to rediscover our sense of wonderment. 

Thank you for reading! Thank you for joining me these seven weeks! Thank you for being brave! Thank you for exploring wonderment, awe, amazement, imagination, sparks of curiosity, and threads of inspiration! In this year’s final Lenten blog , we will express gratitude. 

Gratitude and wonderment are cousins. They tend to walk hand in hand. When we are filled with gratitude, exploring amazement is easier. When we are inspired by a sense of awe, we can communicate that as thankfulness. 

I am grateful for Holy Week. For those of you who do not observe these religious holidays, I offer you a quick primer about this “week.” Sunday, April 10, 2022 was Palm Sunday. It marked the last Sunday of Lent. This day was sometimes celebrated with a joyous parade and a waving of Palm branches, remembering when people saw Jesus coming into Jerusalem for the final time. He had journeyed outside of Jerusalem for a while, so when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, folks waved Palm branches. Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday commemorate the days when Jesus angrily flipped tables in the temple (because greed and injustice has no place in sacred space), and when Jesus predicted his death. Today is Holy Wednesday and tomorrow Holy Thursday. These two days mark when leaders decided Jesus’s radical culture of justice, compassion, redistribution, and equity needed to die along with Jesus, and when Jesus had the last supper with his disciples. Our reading below comes from these days’ events. Good Friday marks Jesus’s crucifixion and death. It’s a somber holiday where we remember Jesus’s teachings and radical love as what is good. Holy Saturday is the last day of Lent and is an occasion of grief and mourning. We remember Jesus was human, and we grapple with Jesus’s death. Holy week ends with Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. We celebrate and commemorate Jesus’s miraculous resurrection.  

Yeah, I know. That was not very in-depth, but it sets the tone for the rest of the blog post… 

Last month, I went to my first sweat lodge. It was my first sweat lodge because when I was growing up, I was told and believed that most Indigenous cultural practices were sinful. I was inherently sinful because of the color of my skin. These two beliefs are wrong. I know this because I went on a decade-long spiritual journey asking myself questions like are Indigenous cultural practices bad, sinful, wrong? Am I sinful because my skin isn’t white as snow? If these beliefs are Christian, am I a Christian? What would Jesus say? Why are these beliefs about my culture and my skin ascribed to Christianity? If I decide I am still a follower of Jesus, how will I be accountable for all of the co-opted and wrong stuff we all still believe? 

In the sacred text I’ve chosen to highlight today, John 18:1-27, there are actually two stories happening at the same time. Jesus has been detained and goes before his community’s religious leaders to answer for his outrageous behavior (particularly the table incident). He answers truthfully and with sass. Meanwhile Simon Peter (aka Peter) has a very different experience. Many interpreters of this part of Peter’s story call it “Peter’s Denial of Jesus.” In the sacred text, Jesus’s bold story is interwoven with Peter’s denials. Most readers of the text would pick up on the stark contrast and celebrate Jesus while shaming Peter. But, my dears, let me remind you: Jesus knows he’s gonna die. Jesus’s brave method, which I continue to wholeheartedly celebrate, tends to ensure pain, suffering, and death for a majority of martyrs.  

Let’s stop and breathe. A slow filling your belly breath in through your nose, and a slow audible breath out through your mouth…aaaaahhhhh. Do that a couple more times. 

Before we go any further, I have to tell you… I am thankful for Simon Peter’s denials.  

You see, in Canada and the US, there were a series of laws and governmental acts that made Indigenous spiritual and cultural practices and traditions illegal, sinful, and deemed wrong to do. The ultimate goal was genocide, both fast and slow. And, Indigenous communities were not the only peoples this method was used on. 

Resistance to these laws took many forms, more than I’m going to write about today. One form of resistance might be seen in Jesus’s method of bravely being himself and continuing to practice these traditions. And as you might guess, punishments were severe or deadly. Another form of resistance was blending an accepted religious tradition with the original one. This blending was already occurring prior to the unjust laws.  

The one I want to focus on today is the people like Peter, who hid or denied. These folks hid what they did by either hiding out in the wilderness or publicly denying involvement in illegal spiritual practices. Many times the people hiding had a protective layer of people who denied. People who hid might receive supplies from people who denied. Or people who denied might block access to or send warnings of intruders.  

Because of the hiders and deniers, I, in my early 40s, could learn about and participate in my community’s spiritual practices of sweat lodge from an Elder, a cousin. I will always have so much to learn, and I am deeply grateful to my ancestors who resisted by denying or hiding. 

As you read my retelling, let’s spend some time reflecting: 

The Retelling of that one night of Peter vs the community 

Judas, the disciple who betrayed, brought a company of soldiers and some guards who were employed by Jerusalem’s religious leaders. The guards came carrying lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus knew what was up and that it was time to make his last goodbyes… 

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck one of the guards, cutting off his right ear. 

Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword away!” Then the company of soldiers, the commander, and the guards took Jesus into custody.  

In shock, Simon Peter followed Jesus. When Jesus went in to be interrogated, Peter stood outside near the gate. A servant woman stationed at the gate brought Peter in. She asked Peter, “Aren’t you one of Jesus’s disciples?” 

“I’m not,” Peter replied. The servants and the guards had made a fire in the cold night. They warmed themselves. Peter joined them there, standing by the fire and warming himself. 

The servants and the guards asked, “Aren’t you one of Jesus’s disciples?” 

Peter denied it, saying, “I’m not.” 

 A servant who was a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said to him, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with Jesus?” Peter denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed for morning time. 

Find all of the Lenten Season Series posts and more on our Ministry Resources page.