Seasons and Times Seasons come and go. I tend to like spring and fall better than summer or winter, although the best summer and winter days can be great, too. For many, the spring season is associated with Easter. I don’t get into bunnies or pastel colors or egg hunts; most years, I haven’t done much more with Easter than with any other Sunday. I do think that it makes a lot more sense for Christian believers to pay spiritually based attention to both Passover and Easter than to Christmas, but there’s no requirement. “Holy Week” as a whole merits some attention as a time of remembrance and observance—especially for those with high church background and/or present-day liturgical inclinations. Palm Sunday festivities¹ are of moderate interest to me; they have their place, especially for children.
Terms and Traditions Words such as “ash” and “Maundy” go right over my head. I’m not drawn in by invented labels such as “Maundy Thursday” and “Holy Communion” that seem to draw significance based on notions of sacrament, tradition, and trappings. If you have a “communal meal during which we’ll memorialize the Lord’s death in a focused way,” invite me, and I’ll likely be there. On the other hand, if you call it a “Maundy Thursday Service of Holy Communion,” I’ll probably pass.
I don’t suppose it matters much whether Jesus was crucified in (what we now think of as the year) 27 or 29 or 30 or 33. What matters is that it was a very real event, at approximately that point in the world’s history. The historical and symbolic connections to the Passover are important, too.
Good Friday This Easter season, I was glad to be asked to be one of seven readers at a local church’s Good Friday event.² The plan is thoroughly conceived and very well laid out, with exceptionally nicely put instructions for all who will be involved. I am looking forward to participating in this way, because I really enjoy public reading, and because I am of the strong opinion that such reading should be intentional and as well executed as possible. I don’t even mind ignoring the (10%? 40%?) chance that Jesus was crucified on a Thursday, not a Friday.
At any rate, my assigned readings are relatively lengthy ones from John 19 (“woman, behold your son . . . behold your mother”) and Ephesians 2 (bringing together Jew and non-Jew the through the cross). I’m working on a hybrid rendering that will communicate in the best possible way. I might even translate a little on my own, but I want to be careful not to get too far off the beaten path. To call attention to history and theology through public reading is good, but it would be unwise to use words so unusual that they distract from the message.
During the next few days, I will share some additional Easter-ish ponderings. At the moment, my spring thinking has sprung from songs, so those lyrics might be springboards. (Also, I rarely turn down the opportunity for wordplay. Jesus seems to have done that on occasion, too. I imagine He would smile at my efforts. Or perhaps not.)
In the meantime, this “Easter songs” post from two years ago might provide some devotional opportunity for those so minded and spirited.
¹ Exploring the word “Hosanna” can be interesting. I’d suggest that in many places, it’s a word that has changed in meaning.
² I can’t make myself call it a “Good Friday service,” because I find that use of the word “service” neither scripturally based nor helpful. The Good Friday program involves a well-thought-out sequence, so it is admittedly more appropriate to call this a “service” than a regular Sunday gathering in my ideal world.