Holy week brings procession, foot washing, evangelism
Sunday marks the beginning of one of the holiest times of the Christian calendar - Holy week.
The week begins by recognizing Jesus' grand entry into Jerusalem on Psalm Sunday, the sorrow of his death on Good Friday and concludes with the celebration of his resurrection on Saturday and early-morning services.
"Everything, of course, is focusing and looking forward to the resurrection, which is the key event in our faith," said the Rev. Dan Fultz, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church.
The week also marks the end of Lent on Holy Thursday.
The week's readings
Liturgical denominations use set passages of reading for each of the week's highlights, which include Psalm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Our Lady of Sorrow's Catholic Church will hold their annual Stations of the Cross procession, which portrays Jesus' pathway to his crucifixion on Good Friday.
"This celebration really has a long, traditional background within the Mexican community for acting out the last hours of Jesus' life," said the Rev. Stan DeBoe, pastor of the church.
Hundreds are slated to participate in the all-Spanish ceremony, which starts at the old Santa Trinidad Chapel at 2511 Ozark St. and ends at the new chapel at 2901 Pleasant Green Drive at noon on Friday.
It is also traditional for Catholics to get their feet washed on Holy Thursday before a Sunday baptism.
"That's the symbolism of the Last Supper - when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper and the commissioning of them to do the same," DeBoe said.
It is also traditional for the church to avoid weddings or funerals on Saturday. Baptisms, first communions and confirmations are appropriate, DeBoe said.
Demographic studies suggest fewer people understand the religious meaning of Easter. So, some churches use the week to amp up evangelism.
"It is concerning, but another way to look at it is it is a huge opportunity. We need to get the true meaning out," said the Rev. Tim Williams, pastor of Nothside Baptist church.
For the past month, members of his church went door-to-door passing out CDs called "What's Missing?" The CDs contain Christian messages and information on downloading an audio version of the New Testament in Spanish and English.
Williams said his members plan to hit the streets harder next week to get the CDs out before Easter.
"Each church determines what it does, and this year, we thought we'd do something special," he said.
In addition to Holy Week services that recognize Jesus' final days, Victory Christian Life Center will integrate a traditional Jewish celebration with modern Christianity.
"We do a real blend," said Brick Wall, an apostle with the church. "We celebrate resurrection Sunday and elements of the Passover celebration all in one week."
Some members of the church will participate via Webcast in seder, the traditional Jewish family meal that marks the beginning of Passover.
The church's pastor, Sam Hooker, believes it's important to recognize Passover as a symbol for the sacrifice of Jesus' death, while celebrating his resurrection as a fulfillment of prophecy.
"There's so much there that you can focus on, and it's such an intense time," he said. "But sometimes what people have to remember is that they're linked. It wasn't a coincidence."