Traditions of Holy Week
The Christian Procession
"I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die."
(2 Timothy 2:8-14)
Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. 9 And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. 10 So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. This is a trustworthy saying:
If we die with him,
we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship,
we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny who he is.
Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God's presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless,
and they can ruin those who hear them.
Many Church-goers like to be faithful to some of the original Christians traditions of Holy Week or Passion Week, but often go year after year and still wonder what it all means. To a seeking believer, there is no arguing that this time of year is most important to our faith in God (even more than Christmas) and for proclaiming of the Gospel of Christ as the truth to a better way to live and to love in this world and the world to come. To be sure every Christian should know that the events that took place in the life of Jesus surrounding His final week laid the foundation by which the world and all that are in it, have been given hope. I would like to share some of these traditions with our community for the purpose of not only enhancing our journey with Christ, but also to provide some meaning and understanding of the historical and biblical importance to the celebration of the Resurrection season.
We have to first begin by acknowledging our role and responsibility in regards to what happened on the cross, and then what transpired three days later in the tomb. It is critically important for us to see what happened during that time for what it truly was and is. Although one was a sacrificial death - the other miraculous life, what happened in those seventy-two hours can be seen as one mission, serving one purpose. To really understand the "big picture" of what Jesus did for us, we should try to not distance or separate ourselves from the details and specifics of what happened. The truth is, at times, it is very important that we do just the opposite. Now is one of those times. Here are some questions to help you.
1) What is it that legitimizes what we are told or have believed about Jesus?
From this one divine event (death and resurrection) we Christians have a legitimate and unique claim to what we call eternal life with Christ, who proclaimed Himself the Son of God. Without the cross and resurrection our stories of faith are just flapping in the wind. Historically based and traditional Christian worship during Holy Week and Easter have helped centuries of Christians legitimize the claims and gospel of Jesus when those traditions are truly understood and the participants open to its procession. This is a wonderful opportunity to dig into the times, places, events of the gospel's Passover week recall. If we open our hearts, check our attitude, and surrender our often-times stubborn will, you and I can preserve this unity of the work of Christ as others have before us in a dramatic and powerful way. The next good question is…
2) Why do so many Christians “write off” Holy Week merely as an outdated, unbiblical, religious ritual?
As the community of Christ, Christians should actually approach this event as an annual spiritual journey with a wonderful opportunity to grow our faith and understand more clearly the walk and real life experiences of Jesus. This process moves our faith forward from out of the past to a relevant and meaningful present day experience. During this week of worship activities we have the chance to witness the Holy Spirit revealing to us a deeper meaning of what Christ has done for us, simply by retelling the words, retaking the steps, and recreating the factual events of historical Jesus.
3) What do these events in the life and death of Christ mean to me personally?
In spite of what I know and have experienced in the past, each year I begin again in complete simplicity and sincerity during this week. I start with asking God to help me in my struggle against everything that is dark, sinful, and evil first in my own life, and then in the lives of my family and my world. I search for ways to connect the history and tradition of Holy Week to how I am currently living my life. I look for change, movement, and growth to take place in me. I seek understanding and revelation of Jesus to inspire and start a fire and passion that I have not known or experienced. Since I was a child I was told, “Jesus died for you.” I came at an early age to believe what they said was true - Jesus did die for me. But, He did not just die for me… “He died and came back to life - for me.” That is something to be reckoned with. The general sentiment in our world today is that Jesus was a great man who died for a great cause - the love of all humanity! There are literally hundreds of thousands of men and women, who for centuries have died bravely for great causes with good intentions; but none of them could make a legitimate claim to being God, and none verifiably came back to life after being dead for three days. In reality, Christ’s dying means little to me without His resurrection, but it means everything to me with it. So, the gatherings and observances of Holy Week serve as reminders and symbols of what is most important about the love of God in Christ Jesus His Son. Finally, Christ’s dying means little to me without His resurrection, but it means everything to me with it. If observed openly and intently, Holy Week for Christians everywhere should actually help our faith to make sense moving forward… it can answer the kinds of questions that can help you and I close the gap between what we believe and how we live. It helps us lose the doubt and disbelief that often casts its long shadow over our many attempts to grow great faith in God, and to faithfully walk with Jesus - in spite of difficult circumstances.