Growing up, Easter to me was one of “those” holidays. You know, a “religious” one that we didn’t celebrate because:
A. there was no example of doing so in the Bible or early church and,
B. we were told to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Christ EVERY Sunday.
Don’t get me wrong. I still believe those things.
The question is, HOW do I prepare myself every Sunday to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Christ? When I take the Lord’s Supper, what are the things I meditate on?
This week is known in some religious circles as “Passion Week”, named for the passion with which Jesus willingly suffered and went to the cross in order to pay for MY sins. What happened that last week before the cross? Lots of things… the Last Supper, Jesus’s betrayal, prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, the arrest of Christ, His trial, suffering and crucifixion. How often do we take time out to really focus on these things? On how magnificent the sacrifice of Christ was?
I recently became aware of a local church who has a “Passion Week Experience” set up in their building. Now, for the record, if you told me even five years ago that I would dare set foot in a “denominational” building for some “Easter thing”, I would have laughed at you. That is not the sort of thing good “church of Christ” girls do. But in the past few years, I believe I’ve grown in my relationship with God by leaps and bounds. Things that would have made me uncomfortable before, I instead face with the question “Why does it?” I question everything. I’m learning to look to the BIBLE for answers, not to tradition and my personal comfort levels. Anyway, off the soapbox and back to the Easter thing… So, this church sets up “a visual depiction of Christ’s final hours.” Sounds interesting. So what if it is Easter? This is something I’d like to see. It’s something I’d like my girls to see. After all, visual learning is very important, and what more important subject is there than Christ Crucified?
So, we went.
We touched the lamb bone from the passover dinner. Smelled the bitter herbs. Tasted the unleavened bread.
We counted out thirty pieces of heavy silver.
We touched rough pieces of splintery wooden beams.
We touched the sharp points of the crown of thorns and felt the nails, all instruments of suffering.
We sat in the garden area and reflected on Christ’s last hours in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We touched and smelled the oils and spices that were used in embalming. Hyssop. Frankincense. Myrrh.
We looked inside of a replica of the Holy of Holies whose curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. (And had a little side conversation about what was kept in the Ark of the Covenant).
We thought about what the cross meant for us. We wrote a sin that we struggle with on a slip of paper and nailed it to a large wooden cross, representing what we already know — that Christ paid the cost for these, our sins.
It was a humbling experience. One that I hope I or my children will not soon forget. I hope that come Sunday, Easter or not, when taking the Lord’s Supper, that the story of Christ’s resurrection and what it means for me will be even more poignant as I recollect on visuals now etched in my memory — those things representing what I have not seen but still believe in.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20