Writing this, I’m distracted by the view outside my office window. A cardinal is enjoying my bird bath while a red-headed woodpecker is gorging at the suet feeder. The difference in these two is a reminder of God’s amazing grace. He didn’t have to create such diverse beauty. But He did.
As we enter Holy Week, I’m reminded of another thing God didn’t have to do. But He did. He sent His only Son to die for our sins. How amazing is His grace!
In an article by writer Cheryl Magness, she offers eight simple Holy Week observances to prepare us for Easter. She says, “Easter is about more than bunnies and baskets. Here’s how you can transcend the commercial, and spend more time reverently preparing for Easter Sunday.”
- Observe Palm Sunday by attending church. Palm Sunday was a turning point in Jesus’ ministry and life. Riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus was hailed as a King. His followers waved and then threw down palm branches in His path. Five days later, they deserted Him.
- During Holy Week, listen to sacred music.
- Read the narration of the story of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection by reading through one of the gospels. Magness suggests the gospel of Luke.
- Attend other Holy Week services. Says Magness, “Holy Week is framed by Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, but what happens between is what makes the Sundays make sense. Many churches offer other Holy Week services.” Those days include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil. While not all churches observe these, try to find one that does.
- Observe a Mini-Lenten if you didn’t get around to participating in a Lenten discipline. Magness suggests engaging in an act of sacrifice or devotion beginning Palm Sunday and carrying through Easter Sunday. Give up something for that week or commit to a daily activity, like a Bible reading plan, to help your mind focus on Holy Week.
- Participate in a mini-fast, either full or modified starting from the end of Good Friday worship through sundown on Saturday. Magness says, “You don’t have to give up all sustenance to reap the spiritual benefit of fasting.” You might simply eat less, eat more simply or even skip a meal to draw you closer to the Lord.
- Unplug your TV, shut down the computer and cell phone and sign off social media. Doing one or more could also be one of your Holy Week disciplines to stay tuned in to God’s amazing story.
- If you do decide to stay plugged in, use your social media to proclaim the week’s events through Bible passages and links to articles about God’s mercy and promises to redeem His creation.
“The list above is not meant to be a burden but a blessing,” she adds. God’s not keeping score. But don’t miss church on Easter Sunday where you’ll hear of God’s unconditional love for you.