I was indeed fortunate to be in the Holy Land this year. To walk at the places where Jesus and so many others walked was a special experience. It is a special place and a troubled place. I look forward to sharing my photos and stories about this trip at Our Saviour.
The most memorable event for me was the Eucharist followed by the journey, in silence, along the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross. I was surprised that many of the stations were indoors. The street, like all of the streets in the Old City of Jerusalem, is narrow. At times, it is very crowded.
I knew that our final destination was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is there that the last four stations are located. As you walk in the door, to the right up some steps is where Jesus is nailed to the cross and next to that, the crucifixion site. Down from the steps is the stone where Jesus is said to have his body anointed. Continue in the church and around a corner is the tomb. A long line to go in the tomb is usually there.
In the tomb is a slab. No one is on it. It is empty. It is vacant. Though it is spiritually significant to be there at the tomb, its purpose is to show us that there is nobody there. We are admonished to “not look for the living among the dead” (Luke 24:5).
Easter is, of course, all about Jesus’ resurrection and by extension, our resurrection. Jesus broke the bonds of death that held all of humanity. We are free. Death is a door to eternal life. We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection anticipating our own. This is a very good reason to celebrate.
Even though we will not be in Jerusalem, walking the Via Dolorosa, this Good Friday, we will commemorate those days in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection at Our Saviour.
The greatest of these celebrations is the Great Vigil of Easter. We light and bless the light of Christ. We recall God’s saving acts for humanity. We renew our baptismal vows, and we receive the heavenly banquet of the Eucharist. It is a night of celebration and song.
On the next morning, we continue the celebration with our usual Sunday services. But Easter is more than a day. We celebrate the resurrection every week on Sunday. Every Sunday is a “mini” Easter. And Easter is also a season of 50 days, culminating with the feast of Pentecost.