Monday, April 06, 2009

Peoria Journal Star: Holy Traditions

Check out the front page of this morning's Peoria Journal Star! Here's the entire article, posted it its entirety here for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.

Christians parade into Holy Week with Palm Sunday procession

By PATRICK OLDENDORF of the Journal Star
Posted Apr 05, 2009 @ 07:05 PM
Last update Apr 05, 2009 @ 10:02 PM

PEORIA — Sunday marked the start of Holy Week, the most somber seven days on the Christian calendar.

"The center of the Christian faith is Jesus' death and resurrection," said the Rev. Steven Tibbetts, pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. "This is the week we remember the story."

The members of his congregation, like many other Christians, started the week with the celebration of Palm Sunday.

The service at Zion, 1534 S. Easton Ave., began with a procession in which members carried palms above their heads to symbolize the people of Jerusalem placing palms on the ground as Jesus entered the town five days before his death. They placed the palms down because they had proclaimed Jesus to be the son of David and a king, even if he wasn't acting like a typical one.

"Jesus road into town on a donkey," Tibbetts said to the congregation of about 50. "That would be like if when President Obama came to town, we parked an old Chevrolet at the airport and told him to drive himself."

he palm procession and other re-enactments that take place throughout Holy Week, such as acting out the passion of the Christ, are not new traditions, Tibbetts said.

"Christians have been doing this since the 200s and 300s, since before Christianity was legal," he said.

Holy Week is a somber remembrance of "everything Jesus went through," Tibbetts said.

By physically acting out the occurrences of Holy Week, Christians can actually show what they believe Christ went through.

"We do this to show it's not just words in a book," Tibbetts said. "We do it so people can actually see it with their eyes and feel it with their hearts."

On Thursday, Christians will remember the Last Supper, and on Friday, also known as Good Friday, they will gather to pray in remembrance of the day Jesus died.

"We focus on his death on Friday," Tibbetts said. "There are no decorations (in the church), everything is very sparse."

For its Easter Sunday celebration, Zion will start the day at 6:30 a.m., and the church will remain undecorated.

"We will bring things, like flowers, in as the sun rises," Tibbetts said. "It represents the resurrection of Christ."

Holy Week is a time that brings more people into the church.

"A lot of people came for Palm Sunday," Tibbetts said. "(Easter) Sunday will be big for us, too."

Patrick Oldendorf can be reached at 686-3196 or

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