Why I love Holy Week

Holy Week is a great time of the year because we get to focus on all of the events leading up to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is an opportunity to prayerfully slow down as the Church reflects on the Cross and the empty tomb.

Every Sunday of the year the Church celebrates the Good News of Jesus Christ in church services.  Sometimes there are special feast days but normally we remember the Lord’s supper, his death and resurrection in one short service. Yet in Holy Week we have the opportunity to take an entire week to reflect deeply on each part of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

What are the key parts of Holy Week?

  1. Holy Thursday – this is where we remember the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  In the Lords Supper we see Jesus giving his body and blood to the Church as a sacramental sign of his death and resurrection.
  2. Washing of the Feet – this symbolic act of lowering oneself to the position of a servant to wash someone’s feet shows us that Jesus humbled himself to serve humanity rather than claim the privileges that a King deserves.
  3. Good Friday – this is the chance for us focus on the Cross and the atoning sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins.  We can let the full weight of this sacrifice rest on us as we realise that the price has been paid for our sins.
  4. Holy Saturday – this day represents the time between the Cross and the Resurrection, which also reminds us that the Kingdom of God is both here and yet to come.
  5. Easter Sunday – without the Resurrection the Cross has no meaning; this is the high point of Holy Week.  We should come to Easter Sunday with great joy because our God is faithful.

I really love Holy Week, some of the most spiritual moments in my life have occurred in Holy Week.  The best sermons I have ever heard were preached on Good Friday and Easter Sunday in 2009.  Holy Week will be a deeply spiritual week if you see it as a special occasion and not just another ordinary week.

To help you get the most out of your Holy Week here are a few thoughts:

  • Focus on Jesus – it is not just about attending services, the services are meant to draw you deeper into a relationship with Jesus.
  • Try to get to everything – this is one week in the year where you should make an effort to get to more church services than just the Sunday service.  
  • Have some quiet time – normally church should be a place where we connect with people, talk to visitors and welcome new people.  However during Holy Week give yourself and others some quiet time.  Let people sit in quiet prayer to reflect on what the Gospel of Jesus Christ means to them.

There are some denominations and churches that don’t do Holy Week because they live in the Post Easter period and theologically I acknowledge that.  However I think we can always be reminded of the significance of the various events leading up the empty tomb on Easter Sunday.  My hope and prayer is that you allow God to speak to you this Holy Week as you reflect on the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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Easter Sunday

We celebrate people who overcome

Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ has Risen, Christ is Risen.  Today, Easter Sunday, we celebrate that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.  After three days in the tomb, the stone is rolled away because Jesus has risen from the grave.  The empty tomb is the symbol of Easter Sunday because Jesus has overcome death.

When we look at our society today, it is hard to explain this victory to people.  People celebrate the most amazing victory ever with cheap chocolate that gives you a quick sugar rush, then a crushing low only a short time later.  This is hardly the appropriate symbol to celebrate a once and for all victory over death.

Here is a more appropriate image:

In our society we celebrate people who overcome great adversity to succeed in a task.  How much more then should we celebrate someone who overcame death?

Let me give you a few examples:

  • My Son’s Year 5 teacher went in the Melbourne IronMan event that involved a 3km swim, 100km bike ride and a 42km run.  It would be a great achievement to complete one of these legs but she finished all three.  The school community celebrated her achievement; she was a hero to all the boys in her class.  It was because the task involved difficulty that people celebrated her achievement.
  • I worked with a teacher who was planning a trip to Mount Everest.  In the training he discovered he had cancer.  He was determined to beat cancer so he could make to Everest base camp.  After months of therapy he had overcome cancer and made it to base camp.  Overcoming cancer made him a hero to many people but then going to base camp was even more impressive.  It was because he overcame difficulty to achieve his task that people celebrated.
  • We celebrate all kinds of people who climb Mt Everest.  Anyone who makes it to the top is a hero.  But if you make it to the top unassisted that is even more heroic.  When a blind person climbed Everest that was even more heroic.  It seems we celebrate people who overcome great adversity to achieve a task.
  • We celebrate people who achieve in business all the time.  Yet if someone started out with nothing then we celebrate their achievement even more.  But if someone starts out with nothing during a depression, goes through a recession and comes out successful then books are written about them.  Even in the secular world of business we celebrate people who overcome great adversity to achieve a task.

So what about Jesus? Why is that we celebrate people who overcome great adversity yet we expect God to give us everything easy or God is not faithful?  Why is that we expect God to give us everything we think we want in order to show us God is great?  Wouldn’t it be more logical to let us overcome adversity so that we feel we accomplished something?

Here is the amazing thing about God:

  1. Jesus overcomes death – if you think it is hard to fight cancer in order to climb Mt Everest how much more difficult is it to overcome death itself.  Jesus didn’t just wake up from a coma caused by the Crucifixion, he had a new body, able to walk, talk and eat.  Jesus walked a few miles on the road to Emmaus only days after dying on the Cross, this is not a simple healing but a new beginning.  Jesus overcame the greatest challenge of all and we should celebrate.
  2. God is faithful – God knows what we are like and sent his Son to die for us as a sign of God’s faithfulness.  We don’t have to overcome any great challenge to join in this victory, we have it easy because God is faithful.  We can stand before God blameless because Jesus overcame death on our behalf.  Isn’t this something that we should celebrate?

My hope is that you celebrate that Jesus overcame the greatest obstacle so that we can believe that anything is possible.  My hope is that this Good News is something that you celebrate because it is greater than any IronMan, any climb of Mt Everest or any Business tycoon.  What a great day this is.

What does Easter mean to you?  Please leave a comment.