Monday, March 30, 2015
Of the many seasons that the church celebrates Holy Week has a particular significance. It is during this week that our particular focus becomes the betrayal, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This past Sunday we recalled Jesus entering into Jersualem (Sermon here).
In a religious context the timing of Easter is linked to that of the Jewish festival of Passover. On Maundy Thursday we recall how Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples and instituted what has become a central act of Christian worship; the sacrament of Holy Communion.
On Good Friday the terrifying events of the crucifixion are recalled. Some traditions mark the day by participating in a 'Stations of the Cross' service or by attending a service in which the 'Passion Narrative' from one of the gospels is read. Growing up in the U.K. I recall it being a day of great solemnity. There was a sense of sadness in the air that was not easy to define. Even those who had nothing to do with church seemed to respect it. Those days have long gone and for most people 'Good Friday' is just another day.
Easter itself is a curious mix of both Christian and other religious symbolism. The coming of Spring. The Egg that symbolizes new birth. The Easter bunny associated with fertility and new beginnings. Rather like Christmas, Easter is an eclectic mixture of myths and traditions. Every culture adds it's own variations to the theme. I suspect it has always been that way.
So we will all celebrate this season in our own way. For some it may simply mark the passing of one season into another. For others it will hold deep spiritual significance and become a time of personal renewal.
For myself it will be my first Easter as the pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church. I am in the process of discovering how this particular church and community marks the season. I am grateful to God for the opportunity to be here and look forward to many other celebrations in the future!
On Easter Sunday I will have the privilege of declaring the ancient, yet ever new, message that 'Christ is Risen – He is risen indeed!' I consider this to be the greatest news we can ever hear. Life defeats death. Hope defeats despair. Love triumphs over hate. New beginnings are always possible. The most desolate places (like the Cross) can become doorways into unexpected, unfathomable, inexplicable possibilities (like an empty tomb).
However you mark this Easter may your celebrations grace your life with hope. May you personally enjoy a truly holy week.
6:00 pm on Maundy Thursday (April 2) we meet for a meal, followed by a Maundy Thursday Service of Communion at 7:00 pm.
Easter Sunday (April 5) we have a service at 10:00 am. All are welcome.
For some music... one of my favorite Easter hymns (sadly absent from most US hymnals)... "Led like Lamb" by Graham Kendrick.
Rev. Adrian J. Pratt