Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Contrast

It's Holy Week. Jesus is in Jerusalem, he is getting ready for a final Passover meal with His followers, and He knows that in the space of a few short days He will be arrested for sedition, tortured, killed, and then raised from the dead.

If I have one beef with the modern Protestant church, it is that Holy Week is fast being seen as irrelevant. Holy Thursday isn't even mentioned. Good Friday is up for grabs -- maybe we'll have a service, maybe we won't.

Everyone is busy, we all say.

Too busy to take some extra time to focus on Christ's sacrifice? Too busy to fully explore and celebrate our salvation? We can't set aside a few days on our calendars each year in order to center down and consider the miserable condition we'd be in if the Cross had not happened?


Traditionally, the Church would have a Holy Thursday service and a Good Friday service. Both services were solemn and quiet in tone. Both were focused on the significant events leading up to and including the Crucifixion.

By Sunday, we understood.

We understood where Christ had been on our behalf and exactly where we would be if He hadn't accepted the Cup in the Garden of Gethsemane. We understood and, by Sunday, we were ready for the party that is the Resurrection.

Easter Sunday remains a big, happy celebration in the modern church, but I would argue that Easter Sunday loses impact when the week before has just been another week in the life of the everyday man.  There is a spiritual gain in marking the contrast between the solemnity of Holy Week and the party of Easter Sunday. That opportunity to gain understanding should not be underestimated, not even for the "seasoned" Christian.

If your church doesn't mark Holy Week, then I strongly encourage you to mark it yourself. Spend more time in the Word. Read the Gospels' accounts of the week between Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His triumphant resurrection from death. Enter that darkness and consider your own darkness as well. Spend time in prayer.

By Sunday, you'll understand, and you'll be ready for the Party too.

- Catherine


Joyce said...

Our church still has both a Thursday service and a Good Friday service, both more solemn in tone than Easter Sunday. It is a challenge to focus in this very noisy world in which we live.

Christy said...

I'm not sure we understand how to be solemn any more. Thanks for this reminder of how important it is to remember why Easter Sunday is so joyful.

bensrib said...

The problem with not focusing on the events leading up to the crucifixion is that we get the whole shebang—from his entry in Jerusalem to being raised from the dead—in one quick 30 minute sermon, and we feel like it must have been over that quickly. We have no sense of the LONG week he suffered, not just physically, but mentally as well.

Nanato4 said...

It's hard for me to add anything to what others have already said here. I know that seeing The Passion of the Christ changed forever how I think of the last couple of days of Jesus' earthly life. It was a very difficult movie to watch, but it's one that I think every Christian should watch.