The Rev. Henry Kim (pictured), lead pastor at Lynnewood United Methodist Church, 4444 Black Ave., has some thoughts on this fun part of Easter and why it should mean more.
“Easter is upon us, and Christians all over the world will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the fulfillment of God’s promise for eternal life,” Kim said. “But, do we really think about the meaning and why we celebrate this season?”
Most Americans delight in the Easter bunny, games and egg hunting on Easter day. For many, it’s their one day of attending services at churches.
“It’s become a part of our tradition,” Kim said. “And people from other cultures and religions are quickly catching on to this Christian tradition to enjoy the festivity, much like Christmas. But, without Jesus’ journey to the cross, Easter doesn’t really exist.”
Kim said that the Bible gives us the reason why Jesus came to us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3, verse 16).
“Jesus’ true motivation was to fulfill God’s love for the world and to offer eternal life to the humankind,” Kim explained. “And God’s manifestation of extreme love was to offer his Son as the sacrifice for the world. Jesus’ birth was an indication that his journey would be arduous and demanding.
“Indeed, Jesus’ life during his time of ministry was not considered to be a journey of comfort and pleasure: especially, his final journey to Jerusalem. Although even his followers didn’t understand the true purpose of his final journey, Jesus was certain of his mission.
“In fact, his followers and a great crowd welcomed Jesus as the next Messiah, the superhero for their people. They greeted him with shouts of ‘Hosanna!’ which was equal to ‘Praise God and his Messiah, we are saved!’
“But the journey didn’t end as they hoped. Jesus, their expected Messiah, was helplessly arrested by the Roman authority, beaten, and crucified on the cross, the most humiliating and torturous means of capital punishment.
“Why did Jesus make the journey to Jerusalem? Was it for his glory? Did he want to make fools of other people to prove that how wrong and foolish they were not to listen to him?
“Jesus had no motivation to prove this to anyone. His journey was completely and truly about his mission stated in John 3:16. His journey was to fulfill God’s love for the world and to offer humankind a chance for a new life. On the cross, he completed his journey, and on the third day, he showed the world there is the new life of eternal peace and blessing.
“Jesus wasn’t interested in any institution or liturgy to honor his life but in showing us how to be children of God, created in God’s image, that is love. To achieve this, he had to teach us alternative ways of life that we must pursue. Jesus truly demonstrated the way (path) that leads to truth and ultimately true life.
“To restore our true self, we need to return to God and God’s will for peace and harmony among all God’s creations. The most challenging hindrance is greed. We fail to follow God’s will because of our inability to understand or to follow. Jesus came to show us how to be free from the bonds of greed and selfishness.
“Therefore, the journey to the cross and thus to the Easter morning is not about the rituals festivities, or programs, but a reflection of our own life seeking to overcome such bondage of greed and selfishness that leads to sin and death in our world.
“On this holy week and Easter, let us meditate on the heart of Jesus as he journeyed to Jerusalem and let us join in his journey to seek a new life of humility and peace. It might not be possible on our own, but let Jesus show us the way. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us.”
Holy Week services at Lynnewood include Holy Thursday, March 29 at 7:30, featuring the hand washing ceremony, communion and the church’s Bell Choir.
On Good Friday, March 30, lessons and drama for the Passion of the Lord will start at 7:30 p.m.
Easter Sunday services will be held at 9 and 10:30 a.m., featuring Easter brass and Chancel choir.
Holy Week underway, Easter ‘most sacred of days’
Holy Week, the solemn commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is now underway. It began March 25 with Palm Sunday and, after 40 days of Lent, solemnly continues through the week to next Sunday, Easter Day.
What does Easter really mean for us? “For the Christian, it’s the most sacred of days,” said the Rev. Paul Minnihan (pictured), pastor of the Catholic Community of Pleasanton.
“The resurrection of Jesus is God’s definitive pronouncement, God’s divine assurance that life is infinitely stronger than death,” he explained. “Life, not death, will always get the last word. And that has implications for everything under the sun. If we are of life, our personal lives, spiritual lives, and our lives as citizens of this world are affected.”
He continued: “We need to examine our principles, our priorities, even our politics. If life has the last word, then love must overcome hatred, forgiveness must overcome bitterness, and generosity must overcome greed.
“And, in the world out there -- the very troubled world out there -- if life is to overcome death, the hungry must be clothed, housed and fed, the unborn must be protected, refugees must be harbored and immigrants welcomed, swords must be turned into plowshares and God’s magnificent creation must be treated with the greatest awe and wonder.
“Each of these is a ‘life issue,’ and since the resurrection of Jesus is about life -- life overcoming death in all its ugly forms – each of them is also an Easter issue. Let’s build up a real culture of life. This is what Easter does for us.”
The Catholic Community of Pleasanton will follow its liturgical tradition with a mass of the Lord’s Supper at 8 p.m. on Holy Thursday at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church, 4001 Stoneridge Dr. Good Friday services will include Stations of the Cross at noon and the Seven Last Words of Jesus at 1:15 p.m. at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 3999 Bernal Ave., and then a Cross Walk through Pleasanton from St. Augustine starting at 4:30 p.m. to St. Elizabeth Seton.
A final Good Friday service – “The Liturgy of the Word” – will be held at 8 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Seton.
On Holy Saturday, Catholics will hold an Easter Vigil at St. Elizabeth Seton at 8 p.m.
Masses on Easter Sunday will be held at 8 and 10 a.m. and at noon at St. Augustine and at 10:15 a.m. in the Grotto behind the church. In St. Elizabeth Seton, masses will be held at 9 and 11 a.m. For more information, please visit https://www.catholicsofpleasanton.org/
GraceWay Church in Pleasanton is holding Holy Week communion daily through Thursday from 8:30-9 a.m. at Inklings Coffee & Tea shop at 530 Main St. in downtown Pleasanton, where Valley Community Church will hold its Bunny Hop Egg Hunt next Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for children 10 and younger.