Special Times, Faith Nurture, General Worship
What Are the Most Meaningful Parts of Holy Week and Easter to You?
April 12, 2017
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The week leading up to Easter is a busy and emotional time for the church. Pastors and leaders prepare for extra services—maybe Maundy Thursday, maybe Good Friday. Extra volunteers are scheduled for nursery. Preparations are made for communion. We think about how to welcome our neighbors. The church is busy.
We are busy as individuals too. We make plans to attend special services. We find something nice to wear on Easter Sunday. We go to the grocery store, preparing food for friends and family.
In the middle of the busy, we remember the Holy. We read through the Gospels, soaking up the detail of each account. We spend time in reflection and prayer. We come to the foot of the cross, brought to tears at the high cost of our sin. We turn down the lights and sing songs of suffering, songs of pain. But days later it is Easter and we arrive to find the empty tomb. We celebrate the best news the world will ever receive. Death has been defeated, we serve a risen Savior! We sing songs of hope, songs of joy. We open the windows and let in the light. What a week!
As we go through Holy Week and celebrate Easter Sunday, I'd love to know: What traditions and/or parts of the week are most meaningful to you?
I'll get us started by sharing something meaningful to me in the comments below.
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One of my favorite songs is How Deep the Father's Love for Us by Stuart Townsend. Every time I listen to this song (and especially during Holy Week) I am struck by the line "It was my sin that held Him there..."
During Holy Week I take some time to reflect on the weight of my sin. Looking at my sin really brings me face to face with the magnitude of Jesus' sacrifice. A grace I could never earn. Following this I am filled with a deep gratitude and hope. Praise God for making ALL things new!
I love the historic hymns that we sing during Holy Week. One of my favourites is, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" written in 1707. That means that Christians have been singing it at Easter for 310 years! While Easter is deeply personal (Christ died for me) it is also universal. I love feeling connected to the church of all times and places during this week.
Love this! "While Easter is deeply personal, it is also universal" is a statement that really resonates with me. Thanks for sharing.
We crowned him King but the crown was of thorns, he mounted a throne, but it was an unadorned cross, yes it was for my sins that he endured all...
Powerful. Thank you for sharing Patiliai.
Everyone enjoy their "Feast of First Fruits" (Some call Easter) Service!
Feast of First Fruits = Third Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread = 16th of Nisan, 5777
This day ends at sunset on 13Apr 2017 (sunset = 7:32 PM ET)
Why is that important?
31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.
The day before the Sabbath was commonly called the "preparation day" because chores were done on that day to avoid working on God' day of rest. Clearly, we see from Jn 19:31 that Christ was crucified and His body placed in the tomb immediately preceding the Sabbath.
The question to consider is "which Sabbath"?
Most people assume John was speaking of the regular weekly Sabbath day observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. From John' clear statement here, most people assume Jesus died and was buried on Friday-- thus the traditional belief that Jesus was crucified and died on "Good Friday."
But is that true?
Most people have no idea that the Bible speaks of TWO KINDS of Sabbath days-- the normal weekly Sabbath on the seventh day of the week. (Friday Sunset to Saturday Sunset. Not Sunday. Sunday is the first day of the week), and seven ANNUAL Sabbath days, listed in Lev 23 and mentioned in various other passages. These annual Sabbath days could fall on ANY day of the week. Once we understand this we see that "Good Friday -- Easter Sunday" never happened that way!
Notice again in Jn 19:31 that the Sabbath Day is referred to as a "high day". That term was used to differentiate a weekly Sabbath from an annual Sabbath.
So what was this "high day" that immediately followed Jesus' hurried entombment?
Mt 26:19 - 20, Mk 14:16 - 17, Lk 22:13 - 15 tells us the evening before Jesus was condemned and crucified, He kept the Passover. This means that He was crucified on the Passover day. Lev 23, which lists God' festivals, tells us that on the day after the Passover, another festival, known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins. ( Lev 23:5 - 6). This day is the first of God' annual Sabbaths.
This is the "high day" of which John wrote on Jn 19:31.
Passover began at sundown and ended the following day at sundown when this annual Sabbath began.
So this is the correct order of events:
Nisan 13 (Tuesday ends at 6 pm sunset. Nisan 14, Wednesday begins at 6 pm sunset and ends just before sunset the next day.)
1. Jesus kept the Passover with His disciples and then arrested later that night.
2. After daybreak, the next day, He was questioned before Pontius Pilate, crucified, then hurriedly entombed just before the next sunset when the "high day", the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began.
Jesus gives up His spirit approximately the 9th hour which is 3 pm. So Nisan 14 begins at sunset right after Jesus is placed in the sepulcher.
Computer programs have demonstrated that Nisan 14, 31 A.D. was a Wednesday, not a Friday.
Nisan 14 ends at 6 pm sunset on Thursday. Nisan 15, the "high day", of the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins at 6 pm sunset on Thursday and ends just before sunset on the next day.)
Jesus has now been "in the Earth" for 24 hours. (One day and one night.)
Nisan 15, the "high day" ends at sunset and the weekly Sabbath, Nisan 16 begin at 6 pm Friday and ends just before sunset the next day.
Jesus has now been "in the Earth" for 48 hours. (Two days and Two nights).
Nisan 16 ends at 6 pm Saturday and Nisan 17, "First Fruits", which is the third day of the 7-day feast of Unleavened Bread that begins at 6 pm Sat and ends at sunset the next day.
At sunset, in the last few minutes of Nisan 16, God, the Father resurrects God, the Son from death! Because it was not possible that death could hold him. He has been "in the Earth" for three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17, Acts 2:24)
1 Wed evening - Thu evening (24 hours)
2 Thu evening - Fri evening (24 hours)
3. Fri evening - Sat evening (24 hours)
So, in conclusion when we understand the difference between God' weekly Sabbaths and His annual Sabbaths any confusion about the days of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection go away.
1 Cor 15:20 -23
20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam, all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
So our Lord and Saviour is alive! Risen from the dead and given all honor and all power that can be given. Literally on the day that celebrates the reality that Jesus is the firstfruits of God' Elect!
Each year during Holy Week - usually on Good Friday - I read through the book "We Call This Friday Good" - by the late Dr. Howard Hageman. Hageman, who served as a pastor in the Reformed Church of America and served as president of New Brunswick seminary - writes about each of the 7 words Jesus speaks from the cross. His writing helps connect me anew with the humanity of Jesus. Each year, as Holy Week draws near, I find myself eager to again listen and experience anew the deep love of Jesus.
Thank you so much for sharing, John. The book sounds interesting and insightful.
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