Throngs of people filled the streets of Deep Ellum and the patios of restaurants scattered along both Upper and Lower Greenville Avenue this past Saturday. The weather all weekend has been beautiful, sunny, and warm here in the suburbs of Big D. After working Saturday morning, I spent some time piddling in the yard this Sunday.
Terri and I are attending church on Saturday evenings instead of the traditional Sunday mornings. While we still haven’t settled on a church home, the place where we have been attending is very welcoming and genuinely seems to care about people. It’s a bigger church then we ever pictured attending, but we appear to have come to grips with that plot twist in our spiritual journey.
I love teaching people about the Bible. When I visited Mom’s church last Sunday I had the opportunity to lead the Sunday school class she attends regularly.
Over the past decade +, I’ve had the chance to teach several Bible classes and preach numerous sermons. Even though I’m not pastoring a church, God has given me the opportunity to shepherd flocks of people along their spiritual journey. This blog is one way that I do that, at least on occasion.
This week, I’m leading a Bible study on Tuesday and preaching on Wednesday at the place where I work. We serve as a church for the homeless, in addition to helping provide them with needed resources and helping them get off the streets. Both the study and sermon center on Palm Sunday.
As we approach Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter, I can’t help but contemplate how differently the secular world celebrates in comparison to many churches. According to sources, the Easter bunny first hit American shores in the 1700s when German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania brought their tradition of an egg-laying bunny with them. Over time, the Easter bunny tradition was incorporated into the celebration of Easter separately from the traditional Christian commemorating the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
While we all know rabbits don’t lay eggs, bunnies, colored eggs, Easter gifts, and little yellow chicks continue to steal centerstage, like they have been doing since the 13th century, from the true reason Christian honor the Easter season. Heck, even churches host Easter egg hunts!
Where Terri and I live, we see something very similar happening with Halloween, as area churches host Trunk-or-Treat events each October.
How about you? What do you think about all this blending of pagan celebrations with Christian traditions?
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.Zechariah 9:9 (English Standard Version)
This year, Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday (April 10) and concludes with Easter Sunday (April 17). More Christians attend church on Easter Sunday than any other time of the year, with the possible exception of Christmas. Holy Week is the most sacred week in church, beginning after what Eastern Christians call Lazarus Saturday (Yes, indeed, Lazarus Saturday commemorates Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead).
According to tradition, prior to His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus spent time at the home of Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. The raising of Lazarus from the dead foreshadows the resurrection of Jesus just as the words of the prophet Zechariah predict Lord coming to save His people while riding a donkey. In Hebrew circles, donkeys symbolize peace. When I picture Jesus on a donkey, I see the gold standard for humility.
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”Matthew 21:1-11 (ESV)
It’s interesting to note that the same people who praise Jesus arriving in Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna!” will be screaming “Crucify Him!” a few short days later. Hosanna means “Save us, we pray!” That’s certainly different than demanding the death of Jesus.
Holy Week is a time for us to reflect on the cost of our salvation. You and I bring nothing to the table except our sin. God not only does all the heavy lifting, He suffers the agony involved in atoning for our sins. In return, we receive His righteousness. That’s what Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection provide us: HOPE. Apart from Christ, we are doomed. Hopeless. Through Jesus, however, we receive life rather than death.
And today, we look forward to His return.
The Devotional Guy™
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