Monthly Archives: April 2006

Holy Week

Theme:

Reenacting the Passion of Our Lord

Dates:

Holy Week is the last week of Lent. Holy Week begins on 17  April 2006 and ends on 22  April 2006.

Colors:

In most churches, the decorations are red to symbolize the blood of martyrdom. Some churches remove all decorations on Good Friday, veiling anything that can’t be removed in black. You can read more about color in worship.

The East:

In the Eastern Church, this is called the Great Week. They have the same celebrations, but the dates are different because they use the Julian Calendar to calculate Easter.

Special Days:

Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday).
Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday).
Good Friday.
Holy Saturday.
 
The time from sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Day is also known as the Triduum, which is Latin for “three days.”

Holy Week is the last week of Lent.

Holy Week observances began in Jerusalem in the earliest days of the Church, when devout people traveled to Jerusalem at Passover to reenact the events of the week leading up to the Resurrection.

Egeria was a Christian who traveled widely during the period of 381-385 and wrote about Christian customs and observances in Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor. She described how religious tourists to Jerusalem reenacted the events of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday afternoon, the crowds waved palm fronds as they made a procession from the Mount of Olives into the city. Of course, the observances must have begun quite a number of years before Egeria witnessed them, or they wouldn’t have been so elaborate. It’s just that Egeria’s description is the earliest we still have. The tourists took the customs home with them. Holy week observances spread to Spain by the fifth century, to Gaul and England by the early seventh century. They didn’t spread to Rome until the twelfth century.

The purpose of Holy Week is to reenact, relive, and participate in the passion of Jesus Christ. See Honest to God for an explanation of what we accomplish by doing this.

Holy Week is the same in the eastern and western Church, but because eastern Christians use the Julian Calendar to calculate Easter, the celebrations occur at different times. However, the following events in the week before Easter are the same, east and west, relative to the date of Easter:

  • Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday), the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.
  • Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday), the institution of Communion and the betrayal by Judas.
  • Good Friday, the arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus Christ.
  • Holy Saturday, the Sabbath on which Jesus rested in the grave.

We can reconstruct Holy Week from Scripture:

Friday: Preparation Day, the Passover

The disciples arranged for the Passover meal, which took place after sundown on Thursday. We might call it Friday Eve, because by Jewish reckoning, the day begins with the previous sunset. That’s why we call 24 December “Christmas Eve.” Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover in the upper room. They ate it early, which was not uncommon. In that era, most Passover Seders did not include lamb, because most Jews lived too far away from the Temple to obtain a lamb that was kosher for Passover. Therefore the disciples, who were from Galilee, would have been accustomed to a Passover Seder without lamb. Judas left during the meal. Jesus and the remaining disciples adjourned to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed and the disciples kept falling asleep. Judas arrived to betray Jesus, who spent the rest of the night being tried by the Sanhedrin and by Pilate. The following morning, which was still the same day by Jewish reckoning, the Crucifixion significantly took place just as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:55-56, and John 19:31 all inform us that this took place on Preparation Day, which is the Jewish name for Friday. Mark and John explain that the next day was the Sabbath. Later the disciples realized that in giving them the bread and pronouncing it His body, Jesus Himself had been the Passover lamb at the Last Supper. Thus Jesus, our Passover lamb, was sacrificed for our sins on Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), and His blood protects us from the angel of death. Jesus died on the cross and was buried before sunset. So Friday was first day that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Saturday: the Jewish Sabbath

Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath. According to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, and Luke 23:56-24:3, the day before the Resurrection was a Sabbath. This is the second day that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Sunday: the first day of the week, the Festival of First Fruits

On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave. It was the first day of the week and the day after the Sabbath, according to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, Luke 23:56-24:3. John 20:1 says the Resurrection took place on the first day of the week. He does not explicitly say that the previous day was the Sabbath, but there is no room in his narrative for any intervening days. The first day of the week is the Jewish name for Sunday. Sunday is also the eighth day after the creation in Genesis, so Paul describes Jesus’ Resurrection as the first fruits of the new creation in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.

Notice the following:

  • Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all inform us that the Last Supper and the Crucifixion took place on Preparation Day.
  • Mark and John inform us that the next day, the day after the Crucifixion, was the Sabbath.
  • Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John inform us that the Resurrection took place on the first day of the week.
  • Matthew, Mark, and Luke inform us that the day before the Resurrection was the Sabbath, and John heavily implies it.

Ancient Christian writers confirm this reconstruction. In The Apostolic Constitutions, Book V, Section III, it says that the Last Supper occurred on the fifth day of the week (Thursday), that Jesus was crucified on the next day (Friday), and rose on the first day (Sunday), and it explicitly states that this constitutes three days and three nights. The Apostolic Constitutions uses Roman-style midnight-to-midnight days, so this squares with the New Testament’s use of sundown-to-sundown days. It also says that Jesus gave the apostles a commandment to pass on to us, to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays; the first to commemorate His betrayal, the second to commemorate His passion on the cross.

Therefore, it is obvious that the Crucifixion took place on a Friday, that Jesus rested in the tomb on Saturday, and rose from the grave on Sunday. So, you might ask, why didn’t the gospel writers just come right out and say that it was Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? The answer is that they did, for the circumstances under which they wrote. They were writing for an audience beyond Palestine, and in the Roman Empire of the first century, there was no general consensus about the names of the days of the week, the number of the current year, the names and lengths of the months, the date of the new year, or the time at which the day began. On that last point, the day began at midnight in Egypt, at sunrise in Greece, and at sunset in Palestine. So even though it is not what we are used to, the gospels are really worded in such a way as to make the dates and times comprehensible to anyone in the Roman Empire who was familiar with the Jewish Scriptures. See also Why doesn’t the New Testament give precise dates?

When you count days you get a different answer than when you subtract dates. If you go to a three-day seminar that begins on Friday, you expect it to end on Sunday, because Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are three days. However, if you subtract the date of Friday from the date of Sunday, the answer is two elapsed days. The ancients counted days instead of calculating elapsed time—in fact, Jesus Himself counted days this way in Luke 13:31-32. This is why the tradition is universal that Jesus spent three days in the tomb when He was buried on Friday and rose from the dead on Sunday. All intervals in the Jewish and Christian calendars are calculated the same way, which is why Pentecost falls on a Sunday and not on a Monday.

You can read more about the three days and three nights that Jesus spent in the grave.

You can download printable versions of the explanations of Holy Week or the three days to use as hand-outs or a bulletin inserts.

Roughly speaking, the western Church consists of Protestants, Catholics, and Anglicans. The eastern Church consists of the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Oriental Orthodox churches, and the eastern-rite churches affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

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Good Friday

Good Friday 
21 April 2006

Good Friday commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion

The most important events in Christianity are the death and later resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Jewish prophet who Christians believe is the Son of God, and whose life and teachings are the foundation of Christianity.

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter. It commemorates the execution of Jesus by crucifixion.

Good Friday is a day of mourning in church. During special Good Friday services Christians meditate on Jesus’s suffering and death on the cross, and what this means for their faith.

In some countries, there are special Good Friday processions, or re-enactments of the Crucifixion.

The main service on Good Friday takes place between midday and 3pm. In many churches it takes the form of a meditation based on the seven last words of Jesus on the cross, with hymns, prayers, and short sermons.

 

The seven last words from the cross

The Bible quotes seven last sentences that Jesus spoke from the Cross

"Father , forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."
(Luke 23:34)

"Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
(Luke 23 :43)

"Woman,here is your son….Here is your mother"
(John 19:26)

"Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?"
(My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?)

(Mark 15:34)

"I am thirsty"
(John 19:28)

"It is finished"
(John 19:30)

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"
(Luke 23:46)

 

The seven last words have inspired a number of composers, including Schutz, Haydn and Dubois.

 

m ~ w cheating

All throughout the world, unfaithfulness could very well lead to the destruction of a relationship, the end of a love and trust that took years to build, and the heartache of more than just one person. Despite such risk cheating continues to exist. Humans sometimes fail miserably to learn from other’s mistakes.

Cheating is not necessarily a physical act of deception; it could be purely emotional. Establishing emotional intimacy with another person besides your partner could be a form of cheating. A real relationship is about sharing, if one partner is doing the sharing with someone else, then he’s being unfaithful. It’s that simple; even though this could easily be hidden under the colorful blanket of “friendship”, it is a form of cheating, one that could be much deeper, more dangerous than that of a sexual nature.

There are many factors that could lead to cheating: neglect, loneliness, rage, revenge, hurt, boredom or lack of communication in a relationship. All these reasons could apply to both men and women the same. Whatever the reason is, it should never be good enough. This is because no relationship is perfect and so an unfaithful person will always have a reason or an excuse. A person who chooses to be in a relationship should be strong enough to either take responsibility to work things out or get out.

Cheating is clearly defined by the whole world as unethical, immoral and unjust – not to mention sinful in our society in particular. Oddly enough though, this just definition seems to waver and bend when it comes to the gender of the person committing the act. In our culture in specific, society’s perception of an unfaithful man is much more lenient than that of an unfaithful woman. Be it a man or a woman, the crime committed is the same, the reasons for cheating are probably the same, the pain and hurt caused to the partner is the same and the damage done as a consequence is the same. Despite that, society sees it as different. This has been the case for years on end.

But if religion has forbidden cheating, deception, and adultery and has ruled the same punishment for both men and women, why is it then that society applies the rules to women only and accepts deception from men? Why does society expect men to cheat as though it is a part of their nature of which they have no control? Why are we not shocked when a man cheats on his wife?

The answer to such questions is in societal traditions, beliefs and concepts created and engraved into the minds of people for centuries. Despite the modernization that seems to have happened, beneath the thin surface, men still unconsciously hold onto the classical beliefs and stereotypes of gender roles. They need to see themselves as the rulers of the world, they need to feel worshipped by their women and they need to conquer. They believe women should represent purity, faithfulness, loyalty, patience and forgiveness.

Hence the common belief among men concerning cheating is that when a man cheats it is nothing but a mistake that could be forgiven, because it is in his nature to conquer and possess. He should be forgiven because he’s a man. However, when a woman cheats it is a sin, one she should be killed for, because it is against her nature, it is against everything she should represent, but more importantly, because it destroys their own self image of power, control and superiority.

Although this conception holds a lot of truth about the nature of men and women, it is to a large extent distorted and quite biased. It is true that God has created women and men different, that women are supposed to be forgiving, faithful and pure, and that a woman is incapable of truly loving more than one man at a time. But this is assuming that we live in a perfect world, where there are no outside factors that can affect such a pure nature. It is also assuming that women are treated the way God said they should be treated. In addition, such a picture does not take into account the fact that there is another side to a woman. Women are by nature jealous creatures, by nature they need to feel beautiful, wanted and needed. When cheated on, a woman feels jealous, far from beautiful, unwanted and unneeded all at once. Yet society expects her forgiving nature to come out and win over.

If we are to talk justice, just as women are supposed to represent purity, men are supposed to represent honor. When a man makes the mistake of cheating, his chances of being forgiven are not small, simply because he’s a man. Why is it that the word man should be an excuse? A real man should be honorable, respectful, and strong enough to control his desires or “nature”. There are some that are men enough to respect themselves and their partners and who truly are honorable. They are not aliens; they are true men. Unfortunately, society gives the man excuses for weakness and lack of control.

Due to beliefs dug deep into our culture, women have been fighting the idea of being conquered by men for too long. With modernization and as women began to enter the workforce gaining more economic power and equality, cheating among women has increased. As a result of feeling repressed and inferior for so long, many women have misunderstood the meaning of equality, losing vision of what’s right and what’s wrong. In many cases, women, who’ve been cheated on before, cheat on their husbands to retaliate and take revenge. Unlike before, women now have the power to refuse to accept their husband’s unfaithfulness and have enough financial independence to leave; hence divorce rates have risen recently.

On the other hand, many men find difficulties in accepting women’s growing independence. Some feel threatened by women’s financial independence, as it gives women both power and the right for equality. As a result, the man in such cases feels uncomfortable, incompetent and dissatisfied. To express such feelings and to belittle his “so successful” woman, he cheats on her. Unfortunately this is common in our society today and has been portrayed in many Arabic movies. In other words, men, consciously or unconsciously, want their women to be in the home, waiting for their husband’s return so their day could start. Sadly this picture doesn’t quite fit the fast-pace world we live in now, and men find themselves torn between the need for the naive housewife and the practical workingwoman.

The alarming observation is that it is no longer hard to cheat. When questioned, many guys have stated that women are available. In fact, women approach them. Appallingly, they aren’t indecent women or ones of lower class; they are girls from the same class, from decent families, which makes it all the more easier for the men because they feel more comfortable with someone of the same background. Unbelievable stories of married couples knowingly cheating on one another, as they continue to live as a family, truly reflect the absence of not just religion but also of morals, respect or any sense of security.

Both men and women are humans, and they are not perfect humans. God has created them different, and He has created them flawed. That’s why God has explained how each should be treated by the other and that is why He created credit and punishment, and it is equal for both men and women. So why don’t we just follow the gender manual and apply credit and punishment equally? Life would be so much simpler…….

Cheating is unfortunately a fact of life. It happens daily to thousands around the world. Men and women equally suffer from the consequences of this act and struggle to come to terms with themselves and their lives. Some are lucky and can move on, while others are deeply devastated to the extent of never regaining control over their lives. Recognizing that you are being cheated on can be sometimes tricky, either because the cheater is really good at covering him/herself or simply because you can’t believe that it’s happening to you.

Usually there’re clues to tell you there’s something fishy going on. So, keep your eyes wide open and you may actually be able to step in and save your relation before it really slips. Unexplainable changes in daily routine can be one of the signals, especially when it happens with people that lead a very structured life. Paying an increasing attention to one’s looks, turning off the mobile while at home and/or smothering your partner with extra doses of TLC (tenderness, love and care) are further signals. Women have a special gift that can really help here; their intuition is usually the biggest cue.

Moving forward from the stage of doubt to no doubt can be lengthy and painful. There’s a wide spectrum of possible steps that depends on one’s character and principles. At the low end of the spectrum are such steps as silent observing and a deliberate increased knowledge of partner’s schedule. Towards the far end acts such as: regular checking of partner’s mobile and messages, checking of partner’s detailed mobile bill for repeated numbers and lengthy conversations, checking of his/her whereabouts, checking partner’s clothes, sudden visits to partner’s work place, and listening to his/her conversations, may take place. More astute persons will notice a different body "language" that is unmistakable.

Reactions to the act of cheating again vary depending on the degree of cheating, gender of the cheater and character. Men, in general, would react aggressively usually ending the relation. Women’s reactions, on the other hand would usually range from mild to aggressive. Some women may choose to ignore the act of cheating and move on with their lives, while others may call an immediate end to the relation. In between others would still try to work something out of this dilemma. Those would usually confront their partners first, look for causes, and ask for explanations and then react. A major determinant of the reaction then would be the cause for cheating: did my partner cheat on me because of my neglect, influence of his friends or his flirtatious nature? Another determinant is the degree of cheating, whether it is physical, emotional, a stable a relation or a one-night stand. One final determinant is the depth, age, and type of relation between both partners.

Forgiveness is a more common reaction among women as opposed to men. Yet it usually comes costly. Women, who choose to forgive their partners usually, have specific expectations. They would expect them to minimize, if not cut, all their relations with the opposite sex, be honest at all times, care very much for their feelings and try to make it up to them. Women would also tend to allow their partners less freedom vs. before and be generally suspicious. An interesting thing to note here is that women tend to be more forgiving when their partners confess of their wrong doing rather than getting to know from a third party. Being forgiven or not it’s only fair to assume that life won’t go back to normal as of the second day. It takes years to build trust, seconds to loose it and even longer years to regain it.

Can it be considered cheating when a woman finds out that her husband is remarrying as opposed to having an affair? Most women would still view this as cheating. It might not be considered as bad as having an affair, since it’s the man’s right to remarry after all, yet it certainly falls under the umbrella of deception and betrayal. As much as it’s his right to remarry, it’s also the women’s right to refuse to continue living with him. Furthermore, exercising this right discreetly involves an act of emotional deception and disrespect to the sacredness of their relation. This doesn’t mean however that man’s mere notification of his wife of his intention to remarry clears his stage. If his remarrying is without due cause, it would still fall under the umbrella of emotional deception.

Cheating can very well be a direct cause for divorce. Cheating erodes trust, fosters a sense of insecurity and lack of respect, which are corner stones in any relation. When forgiveness can’t be achieved, then divorce is more likely to happen. There’s no point after all in continuing a relation that causes suffering. Some men yet fail to understand their wives inability to forgive and expect things to go back to normal with time, while others deny their wives the right of ending the relation.


Whether you decide to forgive or not, it will be a long time before the heart heals and the cracked relation gets fixed. So, men and women equally, please honor your vows, respect your partners, and value your lives. Life is too short to be wasted and second chances are not guaranteed.