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P is for Palm Sunday, Peter and Pontius Pilate

My posts for the A to Z Challenge this year are all about the Easter Story, recorded in 4 books of the New Testament: the Gospels. Image in sidebar links to Theme Reveal post.

Image in sidebar or below post links to Theme reveal

Palm Sunday really comes at the beginning of the Easter story. Jesus and his disciples travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. (Letter J, Letter D and Letter B) They arrived on a Sunday and were greeted by an excited crowd of people. Jesus was riding a donkey, which had never been ridden before. The crowd took off their cloaks or tore down branches of palm trees to spread on the road in front of him. They chanted, ‘Hosanna to the King of David!Matthew 2:11-17 Thus the people acknowledged him as the Messiah. (Letter M)

Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later in the Easter story, on the Thursday he promised that he would be loyal to Jesus. Jesus predicted that Peter would not. Matthew 26:31-35  Jesus’ predictions were fulfilled, but Peter was sorry and went on to spread the Good News (Gospel) about Jesus in a powerful way. (Letter G)

Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor in Jerusalem at the time. The priests took Jesus to him after his arrest. Pontius Pilate tried him and could not find anything wrong. However to please the crowds, he sentenced him to death by crucifixion. Matthew 27:1-2 and Matthew 27:11-26

In the creeds (statements of belief) spoken by Christians during services, Pontius Pilate is remembered. ‘He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.’ (Letter C and Letter D)

More March madness

My earlier post mentioned the busyness of March.  As the first part of the month has been unfolding more interesting days and dates have come to my attention.

The first of these was Pi day or π day.  The date (written the US was 3.14.16).  Pi is 22/7 or a very long number beginning 3.14.  It was another crazy hashtag on social media; I realised what it meant when someone joked about 14.3.16 being the way we express the date in the UK.

The following day was the Ides of March, a date immortalised by William Shakespeare in his play, Julius Caesar.

Beware the Ides of March!

The Romans had a different way of expressing dates from whichever numerical system we favour nowadays.

The 16th of March was Budget Day in the UK Parliament (the one in London).  On social media there was a campaign to spread awareness of a very important verse in the Bible.  In the Good News (Gospel) written by St John Chapter 3 verse 16 (3.16 – the US date) we read in the New International Version (NIV):

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

This is a verse, which many people use to begin to explain why they are Christians.  In an older translation, the words are set to beautiful music in the choral work, Stainer’s Crucifixion.  Last Sunday the church choir I sing in performed this as the anthem.  It was appropriate for Passion Sunday, when we think about God’s son dying for us.  We are going to sing the whole work (apart from some verses of very long hymns) one evening in Holy Week.  Other performances are being promoted on Twitter.

Then the 17th was St Patrick’s Day. Through him Christianity spread in Ireland, where he became the patron saint. He was not Irish, but from mainland Britain and possibly the area now known as Cumbria.  Far more fuss seems to be made of his day than of our own patron saint’s day.  St George’s Day is 23rd April, which was also the birthday of William Shakespeare.  This year (2016) is the 400th anniversary of his death and is being marked by many special events.

Tomorrow (20 March) is Palm Sunday, which is the beginning of Holy week.  There are extra midweek services in many Christian churches as Easter approaches.

So my one word for 2016, Rest, is set against the busyness of this month.  Some of the additional activities are restful.  Other tasks may perhaps be postponed.  There is no need to be perpetually rushing.  I have been taking a break from knitting, sewing and craft group, but I have been reading books, colouring and playing Scrabble®.  I’ll be writing about the books in a future post.

Are you finding March extra busy?

Palm Sunday

The Sunday before Easter Day is known as Palm Sunday, because the events preceding Jesus’ crucifixion included the crowd spreading palm branches on the road ahead of him.  John 12:12-16

Palm leaves, often folded into the shape of a cross, are given out during church services.  There may be a procession inside the church or through the streets.  A real donkey may even be involved.

Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week.  When I was a child there were always activities at church during Lent and Holy Week.  I vaguely remember some based on stories about evil characters, who were trying to stop children doing the right things.

Many churches have services every day in Holy Week.  Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are observed by more people than the earlier days in the week.

Maundy Thursday is when the institution of the Lord’s Supper (also known as Holy Communion, the Eucharist or Mass) is commemorated.  John 13 is where the story begins.  Jesus teaches his disciples about the Holy Spirit in the following chapters.

Good Friday is a very sombre day when Jesus’ trial and crucifixion is at the centre of our thoughts. John 18 -19

The following day is often referred to as Easter Saturday, but I was taught that its name is Low Saturday.  Easter Day is when Jesus’ resurrection is celebrated.  More about that next Sunday!