By Eva Juliuson
We can’t make Holy Week any more holy than it truly is. Our heavenly Father sent Jesus to live, die, and rise again because he loves us with an immeasurable love. It is the most important event in all of history. Nothing can ever change or minimize the incredible gift God has given us through Jesus Christ.
Yet how often do we let Easter come and go with little more fanfare than spring colors, new clothes, cute bunnies, and colored eggs? Shouldn’t we purposely honor, celebrate, and consecrate this holy day to thank God? to focus our attention? to remind ourselves and others to bow down and hold high the ultimate gift of mercy and love God has given us through Jesus Christ?
Jesus’ taking our sins to the cross and rising in victory is the very birth of eternal life for us. There is no greater reason to celebrate and no more important event to recognize. What a wonderful time to truly turn our hearts and minds to all God has given us through Jesus Christ.
The most high God has given us the King of kings and Lord of lords. There is nothing more sacred and holy than that. So what can we do to acknowledge and consecrate this most holy gift?
Here are a few ways we can honor Jesus’ death and resurrection every year.
Easter is much more than one day; it helps to set aside the entire Holy Week—remembering Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, his last supper for Passover, his prayer and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial and beatings, his death on the cross, his burial, and culminating in his resurrection.
We can take away some of the distractions of the world and make this week different than all others. Fasting from TV, movies, Facebook, our favorite drink, food, or anything we are accustomed to in our regular lives can make this week stand out from others. Willingly giving up something we feel we can’t do without helps us to think of what Jesus gave up for us. Each time we feel a hunger pain or the pull of our favorite technology, we can pause to consider Christ’s suffering for us. Fasting from something we are used to helps to focus our hearts and minds so we are more receptive to hearing God’s still, small, quiet voice. Taking away something in our lives gets us ready to receive far more than we could ever give up.
Ask God to help you more fully realize what he gave when he gave us his Son. This is not a one-time prayer. Set up regular devotions or Bible readings during this special week. Setting aside extra time for personal prayer with our Lord certainly makes this holiday more holy.
Family & Friends
Consider how you can help friends and family celebrate the immeasurable feat that was accomplished by Jesus Christ. The ideas are endless, and God may show you a special way to share.
Families can read an account from the Bible each night:
• Sunday—the triumphal entry
• Monday—turning over the tables
• Tuesday—Jesus’ prayer in John 17
• Wednesday—Jesus washing his disciples’ feet
• Thursday—the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane
• Friday—Jesus’ arrest, torture, and death
• Saturday—his burial and how everyone hid in fear
• Sunday—his resurrection
Have your whole family get involved in a family Easter service. Have one person play the guitar or piano while others sing worship songs; let the kids be involved by reading a part, acting, holding up symbols, etc. Put a large cross in your yard to acknowledge what Jesus has done.
You might choose to send out resurrection cards to coworkers, neighbors, and family to help turn their thoughts toward Jesus’ sacrifice and victory. Invite friends and family to watch a biblically-based movie about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Plan a family or neighborhood Easter egg hunt with Scriptures or small symbols of the resurrection hidden in the eggs.
There are many ways to help your family and friends think about what a holy occasion Easter is.
Churches can do a lot to help people turn their hearts and minds toward Jesus Christ. It’s true that’s what the church should always be doing, but there are even more chances to do that during this special season. Many people will go to church on Easter Sunday when they don’t go at other times. The church should never take this opportunity lightly. We should be prepared and purposeful.
Churches can host Easter egg hunts for the community or offer a drama or video of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. One church has a cross out by the busy street every Good Friday with a man representing Jesus hanging all alone on the cross. Nothing else is needed.
Drive-through or walk-through passion plays both educate and set our minds upon Jesus’ life given for us. Children waving palm branches and parading through church on Palm Sunday begin to set our minds on this special week.
Many churches host a 24-hour prayer vigil where people come and go. It helps to have prayer stations with a few pictures and Scriptures set up at each table with prayer starters. Prayer always brings us into God’s presence and sets us apart from the world.
Your church or small group can offer a Last Supper service, a Good Friday service, and/or a sunrise service to commemorate the women finding the tomb empty and Jesus alive!
Perhaps a daily devotion or prayer can be sent out church-wide through email, social media, texts, or even good-old fashioned paper to help people turn their thoughts to Jesus each day of this Holy Week.
Keeping our hearts and minds turned to Jesus goes beyond looking at an empty cross and empty tomb—it is looking to and going through life with a risen, living Savior. Jesus is the one who made not only this week holy—he makes us holy. No one else can do that. If we seek to make Easter more holy, we will keep discovering there is no way to measure the love of God poured out through the death and resurrection of Jesus for us.
Eva Juliuson is a freelance writer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Read about Easter traditions from around the world—some are holier than others!—and consider ways you can make this time of year more meaningful.