March ‘Tis the Season of our Savior
By Dian Moore
2005’s Easter Season has already started with Ash Wednesday on February 9, 2005, the first day of Lent, and it continues through to the fortieth day after Easter Sunday – Ascension Day. Around the world, different Christian denominations celebrate the season in many ways. Some don’t recognize every custom while others immerse themselves in this special time of year.
Below is a brief refresher course on the different events of the Easter Season.
Lent lasts forty weekdays, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending the Saturday before Easter. Originally, Lent was set aside as a period for those who wished to be baptized as a time of study and preparation. The hopeful believers were then baptized at the Easter Vigil, a celebration of Christ’s resurrection early on Easter Sunday. Members of the community of faith assisted in this preparation.
Ash Wednesday marks a solemn day of reflection on those parts of our lives which need changed in order to be a better follower of Christ.
Holy Week begins on Palm (or Passion) Sunday, which marks the triumphant entrance of Christ into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. The week also includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and marks the last week of Lent, which occurs right before Easter Sunday. Many Christian churches use this time to commemorate and enact the sacrifice of Jesus through various activities. Observances during this week range from informal participation in a Christian version of the Passover Seder to daily, formal, liturgical services in the Church.
Passover Seder is an event previously celebrated exclusively by those of Jewish heritage. However, Christians are becoming more interested in learning about the lifestyle and customs Jesus himself would have participated in, such as Passover. Seder is the focal point of Passover and refers to a communal meal. Seder celebrations may take several forms. Visit Introduction to a Christian Seder – Recovering Passover for Christians by Dennis Bratcher (http://www.cresourcei.org/seder.html) for more information on types of food, activities and other customs your family might want to enjoy as your observance of Passover.
Maundy Thursday marks the day Jesus gave his commandment, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35 NKJV)
Eucharist, a ceremony of the sacrament of thanksgiving, is the means by which most Christians observe Maundy Thursday. Some congregation members might take this time to wash each other’s feet in memory of the servant-like model Jesus presented to his disciples on the last night before his arrest.
Good Friday commemorates Jesus’ arrest (per the Jewish calendar), his trial, crucifixion, suffering, death, and burial. Services on this day observe Jesus’ death, and traditionally Communion is not observed on Good Friday. Some churches observe this time by mourning the death of Jesus, covering in black those symbols that represent him; the black coverings are replaced with white before Easter morning. Many Christians fast on this day.
Holy Saturday marks the day Jesus rested in the tomb according to Jewish tradition. Many Christians spend this day in quiet contemplation of the world without the hope of Christ in it. Some also remember family who have died before Christ’s Second Coming, as well as martyrs who have given their lives for Christ. Some Christians also continue their Good Friday fast on this day, ending it at sundown, which also marks the end of Lent.
Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day is the pinnacle of the Easter Season as it marks the day Christ rose from the dead and offered everlasting life to those who believe in him. Observances on this day are as different as denominations, but a common one is an outdoor Sunrise Service.
Eastertide begins sundown on Saturday evening before Easter Morning and lasts for six additional Sundays until Pentecost Sunday. These seven Sundays are commonly termed the "Sundays of Easter" and are grouped into Pentecost season, which focuses on the church as the witness to Jesus’ resurrection. Bible readings from Acts emphasize the importance of baptism by the Holy Spirit
Ascension Day falls the fortieth day after Easter Sunday, always on a Thursday. Ascension Day is often celebrated on Pentecost Sunday in those churches without daily services. This special day marks, in addition to Christ’s rising from the dead, his exaltation from servanthood to Ruler and Lord (see Ephesians 1:20-22).
Rich tradition and custom fill the Easter Season. Much more than space allows here. This year for Easter, immerse yourself in the Season. Begin your journey online at The Easter Season – Resurrection of the Lord by Dennis Bratcher, (http://www.cresourcei.org/cyeaster.html) which includes in-depth information to equip you and your family to draw closer to Christ.
He has risen!
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This marks Di Moore’s last column as Editor for ‘Tis the Season, and our thanks really go to her for making this department such a very special part of FaithWriters’ Magazine. Make sure you visit her new Department, "Well Read", for some great book reviews and author interviews – including one with best selling Christian Author, Ted Dekker. Then, starting with our April Issue, Lynda Schab will be taking over the reins as Editor for ‘Tis the Season, with all the best articles, stories and information to help you through each month.
Dian Moore is a freelance Christian writer and editor, and the hands behind Hands for Hope.
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