Thoughts on Holy Week: Consecration

Consecrate – make or declare something sacred; dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose.

Holy Week is a time to fully devote ourselves for a specific religious purpose, which is celebrating the death, burial and resurrection. Old Testament priests were consecrated for their service in the tabernacle, and all the congregation of Israel consecrated themselves for three days before meeting God at Sinai. That time of preparation for a special encounter is exactly what Holy Week is about. Like the Advent season before Christmas Day, Holy Week is a period of time during which we prepare for a special worship celebration. We take special care to draw near to God (James 4:8) as he draws near to us. Continue reading

Thoughts on Holy Week: Hindsight is 20/20

hindsight-rear-view-future-past-road-mirrorThere is an old saying about Hindsight being 20/20. Thinking back on past events allows a clearer perspective than being in the midst of the present. It’s easy to imagine how we might have handled a particular situation, or to criticize others for what they they did wrong. It has to do with perspective. Being in the heat of the moment is not the same as looking at cold stats. Watching a game from the stands offers a different vantage point than being on the field. It also takes away pressure to perform, adrenaline rush and the intimidation factor of the opposing team. Your team always win when you coach from the recliner. The same is true when watching the game film. We’ve all heard people say “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Continue reading

Thoughts on Holy Week: The Human Experience

star trekThe original Star Trek cast was an ensemble group of races and nationalities. Among them was the half human half Vulcan Mr. Spock. The conflict of the Spock character allowed the writers to explore some aspects of just what it means to be human. His desire was often to deny his humanity and become fully Vulcan, which he found difficult due to his human nature. Star Trek the Next Generation introduced us to Lt. Commander Data who, though a sentient being, was technically not even alive. The android character constantly worked to become more than his programming, finding that some aspects of humanity were always beyond his grasp. Data explored what it means to be human as he struggled to be more human, while Spock had worked to be less so. Continue reading

Palm Sunday

HosannaHosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Today is Palm Sunday. This day on the Christian calendar we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the beginning of Holy Week. Please refer to this post from 2010 as I just don’t think I can do any better. Perhaps this week I can write some new things as we prepare for Easter.

 

Prophetic Words: An Easter Sermon

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 Week: Three Prayers of Jesus

When Jesus taught his followers how to pray, he gave them a simple formula (such as in Matthew 6).  We often called this the Lord’s Prayer, but Model Prayer or even Disciples’ Prayer would be more descriptive.  Here are three prayers Jesus himself prayed during Holy Week.

The High Priestly Prayer (John 17) This entire chapter is a prayer spoken by Jesus that we call the High Priestly Prayer.  The writer of Hebrews goes to great lengths to detail the ways Jesus acts as our high priest, continuously going into God’s presence and making intercession on our behalf.  His prayer in John 17 casts Jesus in the role of High Priest, bridging the gap between man and God, between the unholy and Most Holy.  Jesus has only a few days left on earth at this point in the story, and is about to take his place at God’s right hand.  Jesus prayed for his followers of that day and all that would ever believe and follow in the future.  Jesus literally prayed to God for us. Continue reading

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.

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

The Last Supper

The banner at the top of this page is da Vinci’s portrait of the Last Supper.  Renaissance Christians knew that Jesus and his disciples were not white with brown hair and blue eyes.  They would not have been sitting in chairs at a table either.  Despite the cultural “anomalies” the most important things are still visible; Jesus broke bread and passed the cup.  That, after all, was the point.

This is Holy Week, the final days leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.  On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection, but these days between Palm Sunday and Good Friday are about remembering the last precious days that Jesus had with his closest followers.  This would be the last time they celebrated Passover together, and Jesus still had a lessor or two he wanted to share.  During the course of the meal, he gets up from the table and removed his outer robe.  He then ties a towel around his waist, kneels on the floor, and begins washing the disciples feet.  We know what happens to our own feet during the summer months, going about in sandals or flops.  Imagine wearing sandals everyday and walking everywhere you went.  He then asks if they understand why.  Jews did not wash feet; feet are unclean, both literally and religiously to the Jews.  He was their Master and Lord (and maker of heaven and earth) but he was humble like a servant.  If he then, he explains, is willing to wash their feet they should each be doing the same.  It is not a literal command to wash feet, but a lesson about humility and service to others.

Jesus broke bread to remind his followers that his body was broken.  The fruit of the vine in the cup reminds us that his blood was poured out.  He said that without taking part in his body and blood we had no part in him.  But if we receive the one he sends – the Holy Spirit – then we receive him.   And if we receive him, we receive the one who sent him – God the Father.  The Hebrews had been celebrating Passover since they were brought out of Egypt.  When the death angel saw the blood of the sacrifice it “passed over” that home, sparing the first born.  Jesus takes the elements of that meal, and gives them new meaning for his followers.  He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.  When God sees the blood of Jesus on our hearts, his judgement will pass over.