Pr. Jeff Dock, Trinity & Good Shepherd Lutheran
In most Christian churches, this is Holy Week. The week we observe Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, His death upon the cross, and His resurrection from the dead. Holy has a lot of different uses and meaning in the Church and Bible, but its simplest definition is just something that has been set apart by God. To be holy is to be set apart for a specific use. The word “bible” is simply the Greek word for book, but we use the Holy Bible; that is words which have been set apart by God to create and strengthen faith. They have been set apart for a special use and so are different than other words and other books. This week is holy because the church has set it aside to commemorate Jesus’ final week upon this earth.
It starts with Palm Sunday, a day when we look at Jesus’ riding a donkey into Jerusalem, the city in which He would die. We note crowds cheering Him on with cries of Hosanna and see how quickly those cries turn to angry shouts demanding He be crucified. Our Lutheran church will mark this day with a procession into the church building to imitate Jesus riding into Jerusalem. Other churches make use of palm branches (which the crowds threw down before Christ) or involve their children in the service as a reminder they cried out praises to Christ.
This coming Thursday is Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” comes from a Latin word meaning commandment, since it was this night our Lord gave us a new commandment to love one another (John 13:34). My church will celebrate this day by receiving Jesus’ body and blood which He gives to us to eat and drink and tells us forgives our sins. Other churches use the rite of washing one another’s feet (as a reminder that we’re called to service). Several churches will have services this day, and I know Louisiana has a Ecumenical service for all Christians at First Christian Church at 7 p.m.
Good Friday is the day we dare to call good because of what Jesus accomplishes for us by His perfect sacrifice in the cross. Some churches will have a service of darkness in the evening (reminding us of the darkness that fell over the world when Jesus was crucified), others will gather from noon to 3 p.m. (the hours Jesus hung upon the cross). Many of the pastors of Bowling Green will hold a Good Friday service at noon on Friday at First Presbyterian here in town. All are invited.
And Sunday is Easter. The Resurrection of our Lord. The high point of the Christian Church year, when we celebrate Christ bursting forth from the tomb, the crushing underfoot of death, and the promise of eternal life freely offered to all. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a church not holding a service on Easter Sunday. Here is where we turn to death, that feared foe and mock it. O death, where is your victory? Where is your sting? Not here. Because Christ has triumphed over you. He is risen! Alleluia!
Holy Week marks a great opportunity to return to church if you’ve been away, or try it out if you’ve never become a member of one. For frequent Sunday attendees, it gives us a chance to explore once again the depth of God’s love for us. I encourage you to make use of the many opportunities for worship available at your churches this week!