Today is Palm Sunday, which ushers in Holy Week, the most sacred time in the Christian calendar.
Services mark the final week in Jesus’ life, from his entry into Jerusalem as people heralded him as their next king to the “Last Supper” with his disciples on what’s often called Maundy Thursday, to Good Friday’s solemn crucifixion and death, followed by Easter Sunday and the joyful celebration of his resurrection.
It’s an unusual year because the Jewish celebration of Passover, the Eastern Orthodox Christian observance of Easter (based on the Julian calendar) and Easter as celebrated by the rest of Christendom (based on the Gregorian calendar) all occur the same week. In the Orthodox church, Easter always falls after Passover, but Western churches sometimes celebrate it as early as two weeks before Passover. In Western churches, the holiday can occur any time between March 22 and April 25.
In all churches, Easter is celebrated with a sense of joy and hope because Christians believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the door to heaven for those who believe he was the savior prophesied in the Scriptures known as the Old Testament.
“Easter is about life!” said the Rev. Dave Kerr of Trinity United Presbyterian Church. “Jesus once and for all took care of the penalty of sin upon himself so that in him, I am assured of eternal life. Because of the resurrection, I am not judged by what I do, but by what he has done for me. His grace is wonderful!”
“Holy Week is a time for new beginnings, restoration of new life, starting over and new hope. Wow, do we all need that!” said the Rev. Brock Hoyer of Modesto’s Free Methodist Church.
“The most compelling part of Holy Week for me is the total trust and obedience to the will of his father (God) which Jesus shows us,” said the Rev. Gerry Grossman of Grace Anglican Church in Turlock. “He struggles with his flesh throughout the trials and terrible events, but is led by the Holy Spirit to complete victory for even me.”
“The passion of our Lord, God and savior Jesus Christ during Holy Week is without a doubt the most important and beautiful opportunity for our souls to be spiritually uplifted in God’s love,” said the Rev. Jon Magoulias of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Modesto. “Experiencing the holy and venerable passion of Christ brings us to a deeper relationship with our Lord; without the crucifixion, there can be no resurrection!”
Here is a list of some of the week’s services and special events at area churches: