The Rev. Karen Gibson: Countdown to Easter
April 15, 2011
I asked the children, do you know what Easter is?
"Yeah, that's when the Easter Bunny comes and we get lots of candy," they responded.
Wow, what a teachable moment, I thought.
Sometimes I get so busy preparing for the different worship times during Holy Week, that I forget there are still those who don't know what Easter truly is.
If Easter was a symphony, this is when the tympani drums would start to really play louder and the woodwinds start playing fluttering sounds, and the brass instruments begin a crescendo by starting out playing softly, and then getting a little louder and then louder, and then finally the brass cymbals crash forth as they are held up in the air.
Then all the instruments in the orchestra continue to play in their most fortissimo loud sound telling the world that Easter is here, that Jesus who was killed on the cross, who died for us and was placed in the tomb, is alive.
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The Bible says, "Even if we could not talk, the stones would cry out the story" (my interpretation of Luke 19:40).
The story of Easter is the story of all Christians. But, the week leading up to Easter must take place before Easter can occur. And that is why beginning with Palm Sunday, this coming Sunday, is important.
Palm Sunday is the day we wave palms to re-enact Jesus' riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11).
In different faith communities, the traditions may vary during Holy Week. In my faith tradition, we will meet again on Thursday evening for a Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, service.
It is the night Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and celebrated the Passover.
As Good Friday is the day Jesus was hung on the cross, there is a somberness that comes with whatever type of service is practiced. An Easter Vigil is carried on into Saturday at midnight for many faith communities.
Some might see no need for the ritual and tradition, but I wonder what better way is there for children to learn than to participate in the separate services that re-enact the stories of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem?
The tradition and rituals of Holy Week are a re-enacting of what happened to Jesus on the way to the cross and is a revealing of the love Christ had for us 2,000 years ago, and still does.
The unique means that each faith community uses to re-create Jesus' journey to the cross will help not only represent Jesus to those who know the story, but will present Jesus to those who have never heard the stories before.
What a wonderful teaching moment Holy Week is. Those who have never heard the stories have the opportunity to experience the revelation of God's love through the rituals and the liturgy of the everlasting story.
The Gospel Passion story can be found in Matthew 26:14-75 and Chapter 27:1-66, if you would like to read it before Sunday.
My hope is that everyone will give the gift of Holy Week to themselves, and if you have the opportunity to take a child with you, you will have given them a gift that will outlast all the candy they will receive on Easter morning.