The events celebrated during Holy Week are epic. Jesus’ passion, crucifixion, burial and resurrection are not only central to the Christian calendar, they are the central events of all of history. However, most of us skip over the discomfort and pain of Good Friday preferring to jump straight to Easter Sunday – joyfully imbibing all the excitement and energy of the resurrection. We are right to be excited and energized by Jesus’ resurrection (and our eventual resurrection too, by the way!). However, in our excitement for Sunday, we miss the gifts offered in Good Friday and Holy Saturday. If we resist the urge to short-circuit, and if we linger in the way of the cross on Good Friday, and the nothingness of Holy Saturday, our celebration on Sunday will take on a whole other quality. Light is most brilliant when juxtaposed with darkness.
Here’s what’s up this Easter at the Vineyard:
Palm Sunday (April 14, 10am):
Andy will be teaching about Fasting in order to prepare us for our community fast from Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday.
Good Friday (April 19, 7pm)
Stations of the Cross Service & Exhibit
This year we will be worshipping together, and considering the Stations of the Cross through the eyes of one particular artist along with meditations from Scripture. Here’s what he writes about the images like the one above:
“The Stations of the Cross began as a practice of pilgrims going to Jerusalem who would retrace the final journey of Jesus to the hill where He was crucified. For the many who wanted to pass along the same route, but couldn’t make the trip to Jerusalem, a practice developed that eventually took the form of the Stations of the Cross that you can find in many churches today.
This journey to the cross is not only a meditation of Jesus accomplishing what He came to do – the redemption of humanity through His own willful sacrifice – but its also a contemplation of Jesus silently participating in some of the worst aspects of being human. Being tempted. Being betrayed by a friend. Being convicted in an unjust system. Physical pain. Mockery. Broken family relationships. Public humiliation. And a lot of our greatest fears… having to die. These are all aspects of human life that he was not insulated from. In fact on the cross he quotes King David saying “My God My God, Why have you forsaken me?”… as if to say ”Why is it like this?” He was one who was not separate from our own pain.
I don’t think our deepest question is “Is there a God?”
I think our deepest question is “Is there a God that’s with us in all this?”
These stations are a cross-section of elements, ideas, and objects from Jesus’ journey of being with us. As you work through these stations, may you see the that we are not troubled guests in this world… that we are not forgotten… and that the good news of this season was expressed best by Jesus when he said “in this world you’ll experience many trials. But take heart…. I have overcome the world.”
Our Fasting will begin on Friday continue through Holy Saturday, a day of apparent nothingness, and be broken on Sunday. The seed placed in the ground. Waiting. Our fasting echoes this “giving up” that Jesus did. This discipline isn’t to earn favour, nor is it an attempt to twist God’s arm into getting something you want. Rather, it’s a physical act of solidarity with Jesus. It’s a discipline and it’s a pain. Every time your stomach reminds you that you’re hungry you can recall what Jesus did and is doing, and you can offer a prayer – you can be reminded that ultimately we rely on Jesus for sustenance. When we break the fast on Sunday morning, we are rising with him – emerging from darkness to the glorious light of his resurrection – feasting on the new life He has for us and the whole world!
Of course, this brings us to Easter Sunday. We will party, worship and celebrate God’s accomplishment all morning. Emerging from the shadows of the weekend, and blinking from the dazzling, blinding light of the resurrection, we will celebrate the first stunning glimmers of the new creation – and we’ll invite more (and He’ll show up)!
You are encouraged to contribute to the festive atmosphere in any number of the following ways:
>>Bring an acoustic instrument (drums, rattles, guitars, etc) or any other tool of worship.
>>Bring plants or flowers to decorate the space with signs of life.
>>Bring your Dancing Shoes (literally and figuratively).