Sermons on holy week

Laughing Jesus

Risus Paschalis (the Easter Laugh) and the Sorrow Jar

For centuries in Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant countries, the week following Easter Sunday, culminated in “Bright Sunday” (the 2nd Sunday of the Easter season). It was observed by the faithful as “days of joy and laughter” with parties and picnics to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. Early theologians called it “Risus paschalis – the Easter laugh.” Lately we call it Holy Humor or Holy Hilarity Sunday.

Empty Isn’t Really

Easter unplugged. Those are the words that have been running through my heart. Easter in small rooms. Easter confined. I’ve mentioned that this year Easter feels like peering inside one of those sugar eggs that contain tiny dioramas, each one a household. AND – That is exactly what we intend to do Sunday morning.

Palm Sunday: An Expression of Deepening Devotion

It is Palm Sunday! We open the gates wide and enter Holy Week. We may think of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as a measured walk down the sanctuary aisle adorned with palm branches and orderly singing. BUT in reality the procession undoubtedly looked more like a pack of sports fans jostling for position to get through the gates and into the stadium for the main event. Palm branches waving? Of course! There were palm trees everywhere.

This service follows a pattern of scripture, characters, candle lighting and sung response in this service of deepening devotion.

1. A scripture passage introduces one of six characters close to Jesus.
2. A short, first-person reflection – in the words of that character – follows.
3. We pause to light a candle, in love, hope and faith.
4. Then, we sing, and move on.

We often remember Holy Week with a Tenebrae service of descending darkness. This year we choose to create a service of ascending devotion.