What will make Easter 2019 different than all the other Easters you’ve celebrated? Besides peeps and bunnies, what will make Easter Sunday and the preceding week unique? Fresh? Spiritually stimulating?
If you wake up in 12 days on the Monday after Easter and, spiritually-speaking, pretty much everything feels and looks the same, will you be disappointed? Should you be?
Like most Christian holidays, the likelihood that you miss what God has for you this Easter is quite high. Typically, it’s not our intention to miss it. It’s not deliberate; it’s a matter of familiarity. Most of us have celebrated Easter many times. We know the narrative and how the story ends. It’s like re-watching a movie that you love but have already seen dozens of times. It isn’t any less glorious or beautiful to you, it’s just that the cycle of gazing on Beauty’s perpetual brilliance threatens to turn our admiration into a trance if we’re not proactive.
How do we proactively fight against familiarity? How do we ensure this Easter will be nurturing to our souls?
The quick answer: Wholly engage in Holy Week.
Liturgically and traditionally speaking, Holy Week is the observance and celebration of Jesus’ final days before His crucifixion. It starts on Palm Sunday (this Sunday) - a celebration of Jesus’ triumphal arrival into Jerusalem - and concludes on Easter Sunday with Christ resurrected. Don’t miss how God wants to show Himself to you this Easter. Don’t miss what God wants to do in you this Easter. Immerse yourself in the Passion narrative. Wholly engage in Holy Week.
Here are 3 suggestions for a jumpstart.
Read the Story
If it’s been a while since you’ve read the Gospel accounts of Passion week or if it’s become too familiar, saturate yourself in the story. Set aside extended time each day to read the Bible. Notice the details. Pay attention to the author’s perspectives. It sounds simple because it is. If you want to engage with Holy Week, read about it. If you want, you can join me in my reading plan for next week!
Monday: Matthew 21 – 28
Tuesday: Mark 11 – 16
Wednesday: Luke 19 – 24
Thursday: John 12 – 21
Friday: Psalm 22; Isaiah 52 – 53
If you want to have a fresh encounter with the grace of Easter, you must remember the necessity of Easter. Namely, remember your sin. Jesus didn’t march to the cross for His sin because He was perfectly sinless. He did it to conquer sin on our behalf. He did it to break the chain of death and redeem us from under the law. He did it because it was only His blood that could atone for our sin. Let the reality of your sin drive you to your knees in repentance. Ask for forgiveness and then enjoy the grace of the gospel.
If you need help with prayer, you can start by praying this with me.
“Father, thank you for sending Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for my sin. Thank you that I can have a relationship with You because of Jesus’ work on the cross. Please forgive me for my sins. Forgive me when I fall short of Your glory. Forgive me when I make everything about me, and not about You. I confess that without You, the Spirit, and the blood of Christ, I would be helpless. Thank you that you made me whole, you gave me new life, and I’m your beloved child through Christ’s sacrifice. I need you. I love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
This is the week to turn the speakers up to 10 and sing your guts out! Wholly engaging with Holy Week means ascribing all value, worth, and honor to King Jesus through song and praise. Find music that sings about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Look up the lyrics and use them as prayer prompts. Make them into a workout playlist and listen as you run and lift. On your commute, forego your usual podcasts and instead spend time rejoicing in the car. Then on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, come to church ready to belt it to the heavens!
Here are some of the songs I’ll be listening to next week.
Death in His Grave – John Mark McMillian
You Loved My Heart to Death – Shane and Shane
All Hail King Jesus – Jeremy Riddle
Hail the King – The Citizens
In Christ Alone – King’s Kaleidoscope
Holy Week will come and go in a flash. You can engage with it or simply go through the motions. If you want to see God in a unique way then you have to look for Him. Read, repent, and rejoice. If you do, the Monday after Easter, God will have done something in you.