Every adult Christian probably has memories of Easter outfits and eggs hunts from when they were kids, and a list of traditions they carry on with their kids and grandkids. Easter probably involves sunrise service, some special breakfast, new suits or dresses, pictures with family, Easter egg hunts, and so forth. Church choirs perform cantatas and perhaps put on passion plays. We used to go to one in London, KY that was very well done.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Resurrection Sunday (also known as Easter). I have been blogging since 2008 and have posted many times on the events of Holy Week. On the one hand I don’t wish to keep writing and posted material that is already here. On the other hand there are constantly new friends discovering The Master’s Table and following that have not read those previous posts. And we are talking about the greatest story ever told; it is central to our identity as Christians and never gets old. Continue reading →
Easter is coming up. The last Sunday in March (there are five this year) is Palm Sunday and the first Sunday in April is Easter. The dates are March 29th and April 5th. Those of you that observed Ash Wednesday and/or the season of Lent are aware of these dates already, as well as anyone planning church activities and worship services. And it is those individuals – pastors, preachers, minsters and directors of music, all worship leaders – that I wish to address.
I spent several years in a ministry that included a daily chapel service. Not only did we observe Palm Sunday and Easter but we had the opportunity to celebrate each day of Holy Week. We could talk about the Triumphal Entry on Sunday and focus on the different aspects of Jesus’ final teachings with the Apostles each day that week. We could give a full day to the Last Supper, another to the arrest and false trial, and spend Good Friday detailing the events of the crucifixion. With all of that said and done the focus of Easter Sunday was entirely on celebrating the resurrection. Continue reading →
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2:22-24 ESV)
Genesis 22 tells the story of the sacrifice of Issac. Well, Isaac wasn’t really sacrificed but it was a close call. The point of the story is that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, thus passing his test of faith. As they were going up the mountain, Isaac notices they have wood and fire and actually asks his dad about not having a lamb. Abraham says “God will provide himself the lamb.” (Gen 22:8) After he was stopped – at the last possible moment – from sacrificing his son, he saw a ram caught by the horns in a thicket. That lamb was slain as an offering of thanksgiving. But did Abraham really know? He reasoned that Isaac’s birth had itself been a miracle, and if God chose he could restore Isaac to life. Now think about Jesus on the cross, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Recall Abraham’s words: God will provide himself the lamb. Truer words were never spoken. Continue reading →
Holy Saturday is the last day of Lent, and commemorates the day Jesus spent in the grave. Jesus body was taken off the cross and placed in the tomb with haste as the Sabbath approached. The Jewish Sabbath begins on Friday at 6 p.m. Early on the first day of the week (Sunday) the women came to the tomb to anoint the body and found that Jesus was not there.
To do justice to Good Friday, we must celebrate the crucifixion without giving away the resurrection. Holy Saturday is a solemn occasion. Catholic churches observe very limited sacraments, and the church remains stripped bare (since Mass on Thursday). The Catholic altar remains stripped, while Orthodox churches may have the altar draped in black. Protestants? Protestant churches, in America any way, do little with Good Friday and nothing on Saturday that I’m aware of. A growing trend on Good Friday seems to be cross carrying events, a parade of sorts with participants taking turns bearing an actual wooden cross, reenacting Jesus’ march to Calvary.
Again, if your Good Friday service keeps alluding to the resurrection the tone is wrong for the whole weekend. Friday ends with Jesus in the tomb and his followers scattered and frightened. Holy Saturday is practically a time of mourning. Then Easter, like Christmas, means more after the waiting.
Palm Sunday is on April 1 this year, Easter will be April 8. That final week of Lent is referred to as Holy Week, and should be a special time in the lives of believers. Here are some Holy Week posts from years past; they may not be new, but are still good.
The “Triumphal” Entry is about Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. The same Jews shouting Hosanna at the beginning of the week will be shouting Crucify him by the end of the week.
Who Framed Jesus? was a documentary shown by Discovery 2 years ago, but the same thing happens on t.v. and magazine covers every year. This post generated a frenzy of comments that are also a blast to read.