Celebrating the Lamb
|by Suzie Johnson|
The ladies of Inkwell Inspirations have grown close over the last few years. With a wide variety of experiences among us, we also have a lot in common. We’re all female writers, of course, but our greatest bond is our faith in Jesus Christ.
In a world that preaches tolerance but doesn’t always demonstrate it, the Inkies – with our various differences– are a great example of understanding and acceptance. We don’t attend the same church building, we don’t all belong to the same denomination (or non-denomination), nor do our churches all celebrate the holy time leading up to Easter Sunday in the same way.
Our observations throughout Holy Week depend on different things; mainly what we learned growing up, and how the churches we attend mark the week leading up to God’s most precious gift to us – the indescribably wonderful miracle of his son, Jesus Christ.
Lent commemorates the forty days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and facing temptation. It is commonly spent in fasting and penitence, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on different days of the Holy Week – depending on the way one’s denomination calculates the days.
I always knew Ash Wednesday as the day when my Catholic co-workers would leave for a short period of time and come back with a gray cross smudged in the center of their foreheads. Ashes were, of course, a part of mourning in Biblical days. They are symbolic now of shame and sadness over our own sin, and sorrow over the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus. Though it’s not something I grew up with and have never personally experienced, the smudging of ashes has always tugged deeply at my heart.
When Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Pharaoh grants and then recants their freedom several times. God’s people are told to mark their doors with lamb’s blood to protect them when an angel passes over to claim the life of every firstborn in the land. Passover commemorates God’s promise to free his people from slavery.
Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on a donkey and the people celebrated by singing and laying palm fronds along his path, fulfilling one of the many Old Testament prophesies about his coming. The church I grew up in always began the Palm Sunday worship service with the pastor carrying palm fronds to the front of the altar before taking his place at the pulpit. When he retired, the pastor who took his place would occasionally gift us with tiny wooden crosses from Israel. There are times in my adult life when I long to see palm fronds on Palm Sunday. I’d also be thrilled to come across one of those small crosses, and wish I’d taken better care to keep them safe so I’d always have them.
Maundy Thursday sometimes known as Holy Thursday, commemorates the Last Supper with Jesus and his disciples.
Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified. I grew up in a denominational church and have attended a non-denominational church for more than half my life. And still, this day means as much to me as it did the very first time I heard the story of Jesus. That’s a story in itself, but I still can’t read or hear the story without tears welling up in my soul.
Here of course, is our blessed miracle, the greatest of all God’s gifts – the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Some songs to consider in preparing your heart for next week:
In Christ Alone – a beautiful contemporary worship song written by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty, and made popular by the Newsboys and Phillips, Craig and Dean.
TenThousand Angels – a great hymn by Roy Overholt that I love but don’t hear very often. The lyrics are powerful. (There aren't a lot of videos of this hymn. This one is sung by an elderly man and his guitar, and that makes it even more special to me.)
FollowYou – one of my favorite songs of service and sacrifice by Leeland and Brandon Heath has an awesome message. (You may have to watch a commercial first, but you get the official version of the song.)
Whatever your denomination (or non), however you celebrate Holy Week, may you grow in your faith and be incredibly blessed. I would love to know what any one of these days mean to you, and I’d also love to know of any other special days you celebrate.
Suzie Johnson’s debut novel, No Substitute, a contemporary inspirational novel, is out now from White Rose Press of The Pelican Book Group. Her second novel, True North, will be out later this year. She is a regular contributor to the Inkwell Inspirations blog, a member of ACFW, RWA, and is the cancer registrar at her local hospital. Suzie and her husband are the parents of a wonderful grown son who makes them proud every day – even though he lives way too far away. Suzie and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest with their naughty little cat on an island that is definitely not tropical. You can visit her at the following places: