Through Holy Week to Easter

Sometime in the latter half of the 3rd Century, the Christian church began to observe Holy Week. The gospels describe in considerable detail the final days of Jesus’ life as the intense scrutiny around him heightens to a fevered pitch. Those early church Holy Week observances were dedicated to reading the gospel narratives of Jesus’ betrayal, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial. Participants went to worship in sorrow, penance and fasting, and to linger at the foot of the cross, mindful of the suffering love of God revealed through the person Jesus. By experiencing the full depths of Jesus’ passion, the joy of Easter morning led believers to ecstatic praise.

This evening, you have opportunities to join us for Maundy Thursday communion and tomorrow’s noon and evening Good Friday worship. I encourage you to join in these rituals of discipleship that have formed the church’s Holy Week practice for more than two thousand years.

While biblical scholars and historians have debated aspects of the life of Jesus and of the early church, one thing they agree on is that a Christian is, by definition, someone who believed that the God of ancient Israel raised Jesus from the dead. The pagan world at that time thought this was ridiculous. What is dead stays dead, they postured, but the Christian communion believed something extraordinary, something unnatural, had happened. As the Apostle Paul said, without the resurrection, we really have nothing interesting to say. (1 Cor. 15:14).

Come Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection in our customary ways at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, at sunrise and in the sanctuary, with the beauty of flowers and extraordinary music, with a full congregation of believers and skeptics, with great joy. I have come to believe that the joy is heightened for those who show up on Thursday and Friday and are willing to ponder the depths of God’s love for the sake of the world.

Join us for these last few days of Holy Week and Easter’s glorious proclamation and praise!