There is a church built just outside the city walls of old Jerusalem by the Anglican church which has a garden, a tomb with a stone rolled away, and a nice giftshop and chapel. Its a nice little place. Visitors like it. There is another church deeper in the old City which is in the midst of things– all kinds of other things built around it– no garden, no tomb, no stone, and no giftshop. Instead, it is dark and old– Gothic in feel, There are 7 Christian groups which share it– including the Coptics (from Egypt), Roman Catholics, and a few Orthodox groups.
As I understand it, the church is called “The Church of the Holy Seplecure (Tomb)” by the Roman Catholics, and the “Church of the Ressurection” by the Orthodox. Of course all Christians historically accept the actual death and actual ressurection of Christ– its not that one believes in the death and not resurrection, or visa-versa. But some Christians emphasize one more than the other. Catholics have Christ on the Cross to remember his death and suffering. Protestants have an empty cross to symbolize that he is no longer dead.
Sunday is Easter, or, Resurrection Sunday. It is a day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. The Good Friday service is generally the day to remember the crucifixion of Christ, and his suffering. After church last night we were all silent as we left the church. Friday is the day to remember the pain and suffering, the death and the darkness. But the big day is the resurrection day– tomorrow morning when we celebrate that Christ is Risen.
These last 40 days have been the lenton days. Celeste and I gave up meat to help us identify physically (not just intellectually) with the coming of Easter, and its anticipation, as well as to give us opportunity to overcome our flesh in some small way. There is a need to learn to say no to the flesh– to die to one’s selfishness, one’s arrogance, one’s ‘needs’ (which are usually just ‘wants’). But it can’t all be about dying and denying the flesh– resurrection and new life is the point of all that. I am definitely anticipating the end of Lent!
There are many historically practiced traditions throughout the Christian Calendar– most of which I was oblivious to, growing up in the Free Church. I honestly don’t remember anything about lent until I was in college. Now I appreciate the practice, just like I appreciate liturgy. These are ways to feed our souls and to strengthen our faith.
May God have mercy on us all.