Easter

 

 


 

 

Holy Week is the name that Christians give to the week before Easter Sunday. It begins on the Sunday before Easter, and during this week they retell the story of Jesus's final days. These storied can be found in the gospels books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the bible. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday.

PALM SUNDAY.


On this day Christians remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, cheered on by the crowds who waved palm branches and greeted him with shouts of "Hosanna!" which means, "Save us now!". Perhaps they thought he would save the Jewish people from their Roman rulers, though if he had come to do that, it's unlikely he'd have chosen a donkey to ride! A war horse would have been more appropriate. Many believe that by riding a donkey into the city in this way, Jesus was fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy about God's king coming to his people in humility on a donkey. The people certainly had freedom on their minds - it was the time of the Jewish Feast of the Passover, their Freedom Festival.

Palm Sunday was a cheerful start to the week, but soon the mood darkened as Jesus's enemies began to close in. On one day Jesus cleared a market out of the Temple which was stopping people from praying. This made some of the authorities angry and encouraged them to plot against him. Then on the Thursday, Jesus ate the Last Supper.

MAUNDY THURSDAY

On this evening the gospels tell us how Jesus ate his last meal with his disciples. At the end, he shared bread and wine, which he said was his "body and blood" and told them to "do this in remembrance of me". This is why, even to this day, Christians share bread and wine in church as Jesus commanded. Jesus also washed his friends' feet to show them how they should serve each other. He commanded them to "love one another". This day is called MAUNDY THURSDAY from the Latin for "commandment" (mandatum).

That same night, Jesus was arrested.

Jesus was put on trial illegally through the night and condemned to death. The next day, FRIDAY, he was nailed to a cross and left to die.

GOOD FRIDAY


This is the day Jesus died on the cross (crucified). It is a very solemn day for Christians. Different Christians understand the meaning of the cross in different ways, but they all believe that Jesus's death was very significant. The cross is one of the main symbols of the Christian Faith. When Jesus dies, his body was taken by his friends and laid in a tomb cut out of the rock and a stone was rolled across the entrance. The day was originally called GOD'S FRIDAY, which eventually became GOOD FRIDAY.

HOLY SATURDAY - Jesus's body lay in the tomb.

EASTER SUNDAY


The women friends of Jesus went to the tomb to anoint his body. They found the stone rolled away and the body gone. Then they began to meet him alive! At first no-one believed he could be alive, but soon there were many different encounters with Jesus, who was the same but different….and the scared disciples and friends of Jesus found their lives transformed! Whatever had happened, that first Easter showed that nothing can stop God's love, not even death. Easter became the celebration of new life for everyone who believes in Jesus. It is the most important Christian festival.

Lent: Candlemas on February 2nd marks the very end of Christmas. Yes, I know you probably thought Christmas was over long ago! But in terms of the Christian year, Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are all part of one long season that marks the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. This is like "The Jesus Story Part 1" What comes next is "The Jesus Story Part 2"!

Lent starts the day after Shrove Tuesday. This is the proper name for Pancake Day. It was traditional to eat up all rich foods in the form of pancakes before Lent began the next day and people started to eat more simply. Christians used to go to church on this day to make their confession and be forgiven or "shriven" - hence the name "shrove" Tuesday.

The day after Shrove Tuesday is Ash Wednesday, when Lent really starts. In church on this day, when Christians confess their sins, they are marked with ashes as a reminder of our mortality. (The ashes are made by burning the previous year's palm crosses) One day all of us will return to "dust and ashes" as we say at the funeral service. Lent then continues for the next forty days, not counting Sundays.

Lent is a solemn time, when Christians try to live more simply. Some fast (go without food for set times) or cut out luxuries as a spiritual discipline. It also helps remind us what some people have to do without every day through no choice of their own! During Lent Christians are especially encouraged to support charities that care for the needy, and may hold events to raise money for these, such as frugal Lent Lunches, etc.

The whole point of Lent is to recall the human life of Jesus, how he was tempted in the wilderness, how he faced opposition even though he healed people and taught them about the love of God, and how, eventually, he suffered and died on the cross. Some people like to think of Lent as a kind of journey in which they travel with Jesus and deepen their faith by reflecting on his life and teaching.

The colour for Lent is purple and the church will have purple hangings and vestments during this season. There is a bit of light relief in the middle of Lent for Mothering Sunday - but more of that later.

 

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