In the early church, Easter was referred to as the "Pasha" - the Passover of the Lord. The first Christians used the term that they knew from their Jewish heritage. In Exodus, the Lord passed over his people and saved them from the plague of death.
In the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lord God has again passed over his people saving us from death. For the early Christians there was just one observance. Wrapped up in that feast was both the observance of the passion of Jesus - His suffering and death - as well as the celebration of His resurrection.
Today, we separate these observances onto different days. This is a luxury that the early church did not have. At that time, it was illegal to be a Christian, so one observance made secrecy possible.
Today, though, we have the luxury of observing the full range of the occasion. But some go to church on Palm Sunday and then don't return to church until Easter. However, I have learned through the years the importance of recognizing the journey to the resurrection. Jesus was not resurrected without first paying a very high price. We cannot fully realize the joy of the resurrection until we have first walked the journey that ends at the foot of the cross.
Therefore, I urge you to participate in the journey of Holy Week. Many of the churches in our area will have Holy Week services. In fact, in this issue, there is a page with a list of churches with Holy Week and Easter services. We began the journey of Holy Week on Palm Sunday as we waved palm branches and remembered Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.
On Thursday of Holy Week, we observe Maundy (meaning "mandate") Thursday. We remember the Last Supper, which Jesus shared with his disciples, and the mandate which he left to us, his disciples today. We wash each others' feet, remembering that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and then called them to follow his example of service to others.
Then on Good Friday, we stand at the foot of the cross. We witness the suffering our Lord endured for our sake. We hear the words of the passion narrative and we meditate on their meaning in our lives. Then, with the disciples, we wait. On the third day, we return. We discover that death is overcome. We hear the words of new life - Alleluia, Christ is Risen! We discover that sorrow has turned to joy. We discover God's promise of eternal life.
Both the sorrow and the joy are part of the Passover of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope you will experience the power of God's love and life as you travel the journey to the resurrection.