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Archive for April 2015

Holiday Almanac: Easter dawns with resurrection hope

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"Empty Tomb," wall sculpture by Billy Frank Alexander Design via sxc.hu

“Empty Tomb,” wall sculpture by Billy Frank Alexander Design via sxc.hu

Christians celebrate today as Easter, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter, the greatest holiday of the Christian year, ratifies for believers the claim of Jesus to be the Son of God.

As told in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the body of Jesus was wrapped and buried in a rocky tomb near Jerusalem. Women came three days later to embalm the corpse, but found it missing. Jesus then began appearing to various groups of his followers, with the commission to ‘‘make disciples of all nations.”

Christians also celebrate Jesus’ resurrection for the hope it holds out for eternal life. As Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live.”

Sunrise services — in parks, on beaches, even in cemeteries — are common Easter Sunday celebrations. The events are often sponsored by two or more churches, or even by whole ministerial associations.

Because of dating differences, the world’s 225 million Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter next Sunday, April 12. For most Eastern Orthodox, the holy day begins the previous night with the Resurrection Service. At midnight, the pastor carries a lighted candle, a flame that is passed on to his congregants’ candles. Then the pastor and choir sing hymns outside the church and return for the Pascha, the Easter liturgy.

— James D. Davis

Written by Jim Davis

April 5, 2015 at 8:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Holiday Almanac: Easter dawns with resurrection hope

leave a comment »

"Empty Tomb," wall sculpture by Billy Frank Alexander Design via sxc.hu

“Empty Tomb,” wall sculpture by Billy Frank Alexander Design via sxc.hu

Christians celebrate today as Easter, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter, the greatest holiday of the Christian year, ratifies for believers the claim of Jesus to be the Son of God.

As told in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the body of Jesus was wrapped and buried in a rocky tomb near Jerusalem. Women came three days later to embalm the corpse, but found it missing. Jesus then began appearing to various groups of his followers, with the commission to ‘‘make disciples of all nations.”

Christians also celebrate Jesus’ resurrection for the hope it holds out for eternal life. As Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live.”

Sunrise services — in parks, on beaches, even in cemeteries — are common Easter Sunday celebrations. The events are often sponsored by two or more churches, or even by whole ministerial associations.

Because of dating differences, the world’s 225 million Eastern Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter next Sunday, April 12. For most Eastern Orthodox, the holy day begins the previous night with the Resurrection Service. At midnight, the pastor carries a lighted candle, a flame that is passed on to his congregants’ candles. Then the pastor and choir sing hymns outside the church and return for the Pascha, the Easter liturgy.

— James D. Davis

Written by Jim Davis

April 5, 2015 at 7:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Freedom story on a plate: Passover starts at sundown today

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Passover, called the oldest festival of freedom, starts at sundown today for the world’s Jews. The eight-day holiday dates back some 34 centuries, recounting the deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt.

512px-Stack_of_Matzoth_from_kosherstock

Stack of Matzoh, from kosherstock.com.

As told in the biblical book of Exodus, the pharaoh rejected the prophet Moses’ demand to release the people, bringing a wave of supernatural plagues on the land. The last plague was the Angel of Death, who struck down the firstborn of every Egyptian household in one night. The Israelites escaped death by dashing lambs’ blood on their doorposts — a sign of faith that made the angel “pass over” those homes.

In modern Jewish homes, Passover starts with a ceremonial meal called a Seder on the first two nights, with foods symbolizing the Exodus story. They include a lamb shank, for the sacrificial animal; a piece of bitter herbs such as horseradish, for the bitterness of slavery; a bowl of saltwater, for the tears of oppression; and a mix of apples, cinnamon and wine, for the mortar used in the Egyptian bricks.

Also on the Seder plate are a roasted egg and leafy vegetables, for the springtime occasion of Passover; and the hard, unleavened bread called matzoh, for the Israelites’ haste in evacuating Egypt.

— James D. Davis

Written by Jim Davis

April 3, 2015 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

When God died: Good Friday mourns the death of Jesus

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Cross on red, by cbcs via sxc.hu

Christians today mourn the death of Jesus Christ as Good Friday. Despite his agonizing death on a cross, the holiday is called “Good” because Christians believe Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for all humanity’s sins. ‘‘The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” the New Testament calls him.

In Catholic churches, the traditional Good Friday service includes the Stations of the Cross, a series of meditations based on the 14 recorded events between Jesus’ condemnation in a Roman court and his burial. The Stations are represented with plaques or bas-reliefs around the church auditorium.

Catholics also hold a ‘‘veneration of the cross” ceremony, during which churchgoers approach the altar to kiss the feet of a statue of the crucified Jesus.

Sometimes observed by ecumenical Protestants is Tre Ore, a three-hour service examining each of the ‘‘Seven Last Words” Jesus uttered from the cross. The service is useful for having seven or more ministers take part.

Another type of service is Tenebrae, in which a church is slowly darkened to illustrate Jesus’ death, then relighted to show his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

— James D. Davis

Written by Jim Davis

April 3, 2015 at 8:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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