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. In terms of importance Easter ranks higher than Christmas – a fact that is lost on most of our children and many of us adults too. We just like the cradle more than the cross. In a similar way, we typically 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 (March 25):
Joyce Rees from Epic Vineyard in Calgary will be sharing with us. She will be here with a team.
Good Friday (March 30): Into the Shadows
During this year’s Walk of the Cross we will journey with Jesus as we read and listen to the scriptures concerning his final supper in Jerusalem, the agony of the knowledge of what was to come in Gethsemane, his betrayal on the Mount of Olives and his Trial in Jerusalem. As we walk with the physical cross we will stop at various points throughout the neighbourhood to consider our own crosses – find our own ways to connect with Jesus on this guided journey. Wear appropriate attire and walking shoes. This event will be child friendly. The Walk of the Cross leads thematically into the Good Friday Service – we recommend that you participate in both.
Good Friday Service, 7pm – 8pm
Then we’ll come back to 782 Main St. for our Good Friday Service to consider and experience his journey to what they called Golgotha, the “place of the skull”, where he was crucified. We will also be with him as they laid his body in the tomb. This service will employ all the senses. It will be a visceral experience. We encourage everyone to participate in both the Walk of the Cross and this service, however if you can’t make it on the walk, you’re still welcome to join this Good Friday service. Children are welcome (we will talk about death and the crucifixion and will nail our own stuff to the cross, literally, but it won’t be gratuitous). We end by placing the cross in the basement.
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. You can fast for the whole weekend, or part of it. You can choose to fast from food, or anything else you feel God may be inviting you to give up. Ask him. This small sacrifice 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 (or every time you go to check your phone – if you’re fasting from social media), etc, you can recall what Jesus did and is doing, and you can offer a prayer. 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)! On April Fool’s day, we will celebrate God’s great surprise ending – the ultimate joke.
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. You’ll be invited to bring your items forward at a specific time in the service. Afterwards, you can gift your flowers to someone in our community as an act of sharing God’s love with them.
>>Bring your Dancing Shoes (literally and figuratively).