Holy Week services are being held this week in Houston, as this area and the rest of Christendom prepare for Easter Sunday, April 4.
Holy Week is the annual Christian observance commemorating Jesus' last week on earth and the events leading up to his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The dates of Holy Week are defined by the date of Easter Sunday, which is a moveable feast, and therefore falls on different dates from year to year.
Holy Week commences on Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday -- often incorrectly referred to as Easter Saturday.
Holy Week begins with the sixth Sunday in Lent. This Sunday observes the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem that was marked by welcoming crowds in Jerusalem for Passover.
Ironically, the crowds who welcomed him would only five days later cry for his execution. It is a sobering reminder of the human tendency to want God on our own terms.
Holy Week does not include Easter Sunday, which is the first day of Easter Week.
Easter is set aside to cherish the memory of Christ dying on a cross, then His miraculous resurrection from the dead. The Resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of Christian faith. All the truths and doctrines of Christianity rise or fall on the reality of the Resurrection.
The Old Testament prophets talked of a man, the Messiah, who would come one day and rescue His people. They talked of Him in detail. Seven hundred years before Christ, Isaiah talked of a man who would come and bear the grief of others. In what is called “The Servant’s Song,” Isaiah saw this person “wounded for our transgressions...bruised for our iniquities.”
At Easter, we meditate on the bloody, agonizingly slow death of Christ on the cross. We think of His scourging with a whip, which cut deep gashes into His back. And we remember that He was raised from the dead with a glorious new body, never to die again. The Bible reflects this: “Because He lives, we can live.” – I Corinthians 15: 55-57.
The Easter story of the Resurrection is one of history’s most studied stories. It’s personal and powerful, and it brings awe to people and offers hope to them as well today as it did over 2,000 years ago.