Sunday, March 23, 2008

Do Apostolics Believe in Easter?

Is anyone else as deeply disturbed as I am at how little our Pentecostal churches celebrate Holy Week? Seriously, judging by our actions, do we really believe in the power of Easter?

I checked around many regions of the country and here’s what I heard - almost nothing on Palm Sunday (one church did a special singspiration, several mentioned it in sermons), we don’t even know what Maundy Thursday is, I heard of only three churches doing something special on Good Friday, and are Easter musicals now the exception instead of the rule? (Perhaps they never were the rule?)

I know we don’t want to be bound by extra-biblical Catholic / Orthodox / mainline traditions, but haven’t we now flung ourselves into a weird, almost-anti-Christian opposite? Palm Sunday is not Catholic, it’s Christian and it holds great significance to our faith. Good Friday is not Orthodox, it’s Christian! By celebrating so little, haven’t we trapped ourselves into some type of non-thinking anti-tradition tradition?

The comeback I get is we celebrate Christmas with children’s musicals and the like. I would argue one huge reason we celebrate Christmas is due to our over-commercialized Christmas gift-buying culture more than because of its importance. (Think about it: the death and resurrection is infinitely more important than the virgin birth.) Is it the Christmas advertising that creates our Christmas outreach?

I asked my Sunday school class last weekend, “Doe anyone know what we’re celebrating today?” “St. Patrick’s Day” was the most common answer. (The correct answer: Palm Sunday.) Is a major reason we don’t highlight Holy Week because corporations don’t advertise it for us? Will next week be just another Sunday service, or will there be any reference to the continuing power of Easter? What creates our priorities: corporate America, mainline Christianity, Pentecostal anti-tradition, or the Bible?

Is anyone else as deeply disturbed as I am at how little our Pentecostal churches celebrate Holy Week?

10 comments:

Ron Giesecke said...

THAT--is a really, really great point. I'm with you, brother.

-R

Liz said...

I agree, it seems that we've ignored Holy Week but we celebrate Pentecost Sunday as more of a "holy" day than remembering the Resurrection.

Our church usually has our footwashing/communion service the week before Easter (this year it was Wednesday, previously it has also been on Good Friday or on the Saturday night before Easter). I find that having this ceremony at Easter time rather than New Year's like I've seen it at other churches is more of a remembrance like it was intended.

Anonymous said...

"I know we don’t want to be bound by extra-biblical Catholic / Orthodox / mainline traditions,..."

Seeing as we (apostolics)have enough of our own extra-biblical traditions maybe we're hesitant about taking on some more.

Steve said...

“Our church usually has our footwashing/communion service the week before Easter”


We do a version of a Maundy Thursday service on the Wednesday before Easter which includes communion and a simple soup & bread fellowship. The communion service is done more creatively than the one on Easter Sunday morning. We have traditionally done footwashing during our New Year’s Eve watchnight service, although I can see where it would fit in better with the Holy Week theme. Watchnight service is a tradition that goes back over 25 years in our local church so people are pretty ingrained to do footwashing during that time.

Our church also does a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service using a take-off of the traditional “Lessons & Carols” theme from other mainline denominations. However, that is purely tradition as well given there is no scriptural evidence or mandate to celebrate what we call “Christmas.”

jcsavestheday said...

My church has a huge easter drama that we do the day before easter and on easter sunday. We don't do anything for palm sunday, although at the church that I went to befoe I went to college, my pastor would always preach on the Triumphal Entry and he would pass out palm branches.

I go to a church that is affiliated with the UPCI, and for whatever reason our youth convention is the same week as easter, so most of our churches do not do a whole lot leading up to easter because of that.

Incedentally we don't really celebrat Pentecost, either.

ouizo said...

I certainly hope not, we all know or should all know that Easter is the transliterated name of a pagan goddess. Tradition in the christian church has kept the Easter Sunday celebration alive. At some point church leaders have taken a closer look at it and their presentation through preaching has brought clarity to what we really are celebrating, THE RESSURECTION OF JESUS CHRIST. It is crystal clear in Apostolic churches that the Easter Bunny has nothing to do with the ressurection. At the same time many pastors have come to realize that on these days ( Christmas Easter) many unsaved souls fill our pews, and it gives them the opportunity to hear the Gospel.They understand what's really going on and many respond repenting of their sins and being filled with the precious Holy Ghost and being baptized in the wonderful name of jesus. So please let's not choke on a nat and swallow the camel.

ouizo said...

I certainly hope not, we all know or should all know that Easter is the transliterated name of a pagan goddess. Tradition in the christian church has kept the Easter Sunday celebration alive. At some point church leaders have taken a closer look at it and their presentation through preaching has brought clarity to what we really are celebrating, THE RESSURECTION OF JESUS CHRIST. It is crystal clear in Apostolic churches that the Easter Bunny has nothing to do with the ressurection. At the same time many pastors have come to realize that on these days ( Christmas Easter) many unsaved souls fill our pews, and it gives them the opportunity to hear the Gospel.They understand what's really going on and many respond repenting of their sins and being filled with the precious Holy Ghost and being baptized in the wonderful name of jesus. So please let's not choke on a nat and swallow the camel.

John said...

For whatever reasons the KJV translators chose the word “Easter” in Acts 12:4 for the Aramaic transliteration of the Hebrew word “pacach,” which means to pass over. It is where the Hebrew word for “Passover” is derived. It is from this word we get our English transliteration of “paschal,” which is used to describe the “paschal” lamb of Passover. It is only translated as “Easter” in this one spot of the KJV. The KJV translates “pacach” as Passover in the roughly 25 occurrences of the English word in the NT. The dating of Easter is somewhat complicated but is more or less the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. For whatever reasons (some of which are open to interpretation) it does not follow the Jewish calendar and thus does not always coincide with the Jewish Passover. If you think we have some disagreements in the apostolic church, just do a little research into how the date for Easter was determined!

Here is an interesting article:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-id.calendar23mar23,0,6704299.story

aahrens said...

Ron,
Some Gateway faculty and I were having this very conversation last week. I agree with you completely. I have an adult piano student who is Catholic and heavily involved in his church, teaching, mentoring, etc. We have had some conversations about Lent, East, Holy Week, etc. I am fascinated by someone who does not have the revelation that I have, and yet he is so dedicated to observing the traditions and days that represent and respect the resurrection. Each time we talk, I feel not a little shame over how little attention we pay to what this day truely celebrates.

I have often thought about Lent and the abstaining from comforts and pleasures that goes along with it. I am completely convinced that we as Apostolics would do well to consider doing something similar. But I'm not so naive to think we ever will. We are so insecure at times in what we believe and who we are that we avoid anything demnominal or Catholic because we're too afraid we will be like them. One of my biggest frustrations is our lack of celebration of these Holy days and the affect it has on how outsiders view us - do they think we have no respect or concern for what these days represent? When visitors come into our churches on Easter, for instance, they expect to hear about EASTER!!!!! Christmas is easy to celebrate- it leaves us all warm and fuzzy. I think you're right- we're embracing the EMOTION of Christmas more than it's message.

AA

PS - in response to OUIZO's comments - yes, the ultimate goal is NT salvation for all, but truly celebrating the MEANS to that salvation is just as important. AS I said above, people who know nothing of us don't come to our church seeking to speak in tongues! They come seeking the message of Christ. So, I disagree with your "strain at a nat, swallow a camel" comment.

Steve said...

Good thoughts Ann!

I especially liked this one:

“We are so insecure at times in what we believe and who we are that we avoid anything denominational or Catholic because we're too afraid we will be like them.”

And this one concerning Lent:

“I am completely convinced that we as Apostolics would do well to consider doing something similar.”

I am secure enough in what I believe to not only be interested in these traditions, but also be to practice some of them. I think it enhances my apostolic experience. Our version of Maundy Thursday is a great time leading up to Easter. I have also thought about observing Lent (minus the ashes on my forehead).

I think you’re onto something with your observation about being insecure in what we believe.