Holy Saturday

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.

Holy Week Review

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.

The Last Supper is about Jesus’ final Passover and the beginning of communion.  And on the same night he washed the disciples’ feet.

Is Jesus the Sheep, or the Shepherd?  This rather short post is one of the most read ever on The Master’s Table.

The Resurrection is the most celebrated event in Christianity, but here’s a thought: Jesus Died.  Jesus is God; have you ever thought that all the way through?

He Cannot Save Himself, the original post and He Cannot Save Himself, a poem for Good Friday.

It’s Friday, Sunday’s Coming  Sermon by S.M. Lockridge, with scenes from The Passion

And finally The Importance of the Resurrection.

The Read and Share File

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

First from Christian Post.  I hate to mention Westboro Baptist because that’s what they want.  Good press, bad press, they eat it up.  Westboro has announced they will protest funerals of tornado victims in Illinois, saying they got what they deserved.  Does God hate sin?  Yes.  Will he punish sin?  Yes.  What Westboro Baptist does not understand is the Gospel.  The Good News is that Christ received in himself the due penalty for our sin.  (more)

In his Friday Random Links, Noel Heikkinen shared this article from the Transformed blog.  I have been in churches that make fun of education, referring to seminary as cemetery, and know exactly what these guys are talking about.  The greatest commandment is to love the LORD your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Mind is in that list, just saying.

The Key to Knowledge (Obsecrations, by way of Resting In His Grace) is on a similar topic.

This is the second Sunday of Lent; Palm Sunday is April 1, Easter is April 8.  I looked up Easter on Wikipedia just for kicks.  I did not read the whole thing (looks like about 2,000 words) but the introduction looks very good.  Here’s a sample:

Easter marks the end of Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of the Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are etymologically related or homonymous.[4]

*note: those are Wikipedia internal links, I did not go through and insert each one myself.  The main article on Easter is well informed, but I will not vouch for all the others.  

What is Ash Wednesday?

Re-posted from March 17, 2009.  The original title was Ash Wednesday, Lent, (and p.s. Mardi Gras)  The only change is the date in line 2.  

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday occurs 46 days before Easter, 40 days if you don’t count Sundays.  This year it fell on February 22nd.  This marks the beginning of Lent, a time of preparation for Holy Week.  At an Ash Wednesday service, part of the ceremony is placing ashes on the forehead as an outward symbol that you will be observing Lent.  During the 40 day period something is given up, anything typically important to the individual, and more time spent in prayer, worship and meditation.  Lent is about preparing ourselves spiritually to observe Holy Week, the days between Palm Sunday and Easter.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is one week before Easter, and celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to celebrate Passover.  The crowd shouted “Hosanna”, and waved palm branches.  Actual palm branches may be used in a Palm Sunday service, and those branches will be saved until next year, burned, and the ashes used during the Ash Wednesday service mentioned above.  The same Jews shouting “Hosanna” at Jesus’ entry would be shouting “Crucify him” just a few days later.

Good Friday

Continue reading

Every Saga has a Beginning

Today is Easter Sunday.  Lent bagan 40 days ago, Palm Sunday was last week, 2 days ago was Good Friday.  Holy Week is about the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth.  Not too long ago – it’s been about 4 months – we celebrated the beginning of his life on earth.  Do you remember that story?

Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, to be counted in the Roman census and taxed.  Baby Jesus was laid in a manger, shepherds came and worshiped, and the wise men traveled from afar.  They followed the star and brought gifts fit for a king.  Jesus was presented with gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Gold makes sense; no one would mind getting that present.  Frankincense is an incense, a sweet perfume.  It’s actually a resin, made from the bark of a tree.  Myrrh is very similar, but bitter.  It’s most common use in the first century was anointing the dead.  Gold is an awesome gift, perfume maybe, but… you wouldn’t give a newborn embalming fluid.

Once you know how the story ends, the beginning makes more sense.  In literature, it’s called foreshadowing.  Jesus was born to die.  He came to be a sacrifice.  The unusual gift brought by one very wise man reminds us what is really important about Christmas.  The gifts that were given to Jesus pale in comparison to the gift of Jesus.  Throughout his ministry Jesus understood his mission, even when his followers could not.  The disciples were told plainly that the Son of Man must suffer many things, be rejected by men, even that he must die.  Jesus told them, more than once, that he would rise again.  Eventually they were afraid to ask.

The real story of course begins before the incarnation and does not end with the crucifixion.  Today is Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.  That still isn’t the end of the story.  Jesus wasn’t just resurrected; he is the resurrection.  The story of God’s coming kingdom isn’t over yet.

The New Thing in Sermons

In the Old Testament, the prophet was a person who did the speaking for God.  Not necessarily predicting future events, the prophet acted as the spoken voice of God on earth.  During Jesus’s earthly ministry, he was found daily in the temple or synagogue reading and teaching.  While his sermon on the mount may have turned the Pharisees’ world upside down, he was regarded as a rabbi in most Jewish circles.  In Acts chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter preaches something entirely new. Continue reading

The “Triumphal” Entry

Several well known statements are found in Psalm 118:1-25: “His steadfast love endures forever,” “this is the day the LORD hath made,” “the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and even others still.  Verse 25 reads “Save us, we pray, O LORD” in the ESV; “O LORD. we beseech thee, save us now!” in the King James.  The Hebrew word rendered in English as save now is hosanna.

All four Gospels tell the story of Jesus’s triumphal entry.  Palm Sunday is our celebration of Jesus entering Jerusalem for the last time to observe Passover with his disciples. Continue reading

Who Framed Jesus?

I can tell that Easter is near.  Every year about this time, several television specials and news magazines focus on the fact that Christians still believe in Jesus even though they should not.  In about a week, expect Time Magazine (or its equivalent) to run a cover story on how/why the resurrection could not have possibly taken place.  Predictably, they will claim Jesus either 1) did not die  2) stayed dead, or 3) was never alive in the first place.  Each year, several media outlets predict an end to Christian faith, despite the fact that each year there are still billions of Christians around the world. Continue reading

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday.  Easter will be in 46 days.  I wrote a decent post last year (not my best ever) titled Ash Wednesday, Lent, and p.s. Mardi Gras.  It’s sort of a Christian Calendar for Dummies.  I’m satisfied to link that for now, and will have some new stuff up before Holy Week.