Almost every religion has holy days (holidays). These are days full of tradition. Days full of ancient stories and richly symbolic actions that reveal what is sacred and core to the people celebrating and participating.
Starting this past Sunday, many Christians around the world began celebrating the Christian Holy Week. Holy week is the week leading up to Easter Sunday, a major feast day of celebration. Palm Sunday (last Sunday), Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are the days when Christians get together for special worship services.
These holy days are part of a story that echoes through the generations and beyond the boundaries of nationality and language. Christians in tiny, remote villages come together to worship on these days, just the same as Christians in grand, gothic cathedrals half way around the world and everywhere in between.
The story told in all these languages, places and ages is the story of Jesus. Jesus was a Palestinian Jewish man and son of God who sacrificed his own short, divine and earthly life for the sake of a love. A love that would echo through heaven and hell, the earth and beyond shattering the power of evil and death. The Christian Gospel or good news is the story of this love. By Jesus’ death and resurrection (from death to new life) Christians believe that God broke the power of death and all the barriers that separate you and I from God and each other.
It is a big story. Both complicated and simple. Christians share the story by reading and telling, but also with symbolic actions (like washing feet, stripping the altar, extinguishing candles, fasting, etc). Christians also take time to respond to God’s love still echoing in this space and time - still shattering the power of hate and cruelty - the power of evil. We respond with prayers for peace and justice, with prayers asking for forgiveness and change, with songs and music, and silence.
These holy days are distinct and special. I invite you to check out all or part Holy week at one of the area churces. You are welcome to come and see. You can participate or simply observe. Please come with an open mind and feel free to ask lots of questions afterwards, especially to the pastor or priest. Please note: Maundy Thursday and Good Friday go together to prepare us for the culmination of the story on Easter. So if you want the full effect, try to go to all three services.
Whether you attend or not, I pray that the joy of Easter, evidenced in the renewal of Spring, will fill your hearts and lives with peace and good cheer.