Holy Week and Easter

Edwards Church, along with many other Christians just celebrated Palm Sunday.  There were two processions entering Jerusalem that day.  One from the east as Jesus rode a donkey (a symbol of industry, peace, and occasionally wealth) into the city flanked by followers and sympathizers.  The other from the west as Pontius Pilate entered flanked by a cavalry of imperial soldiers and riding horse (a symbol of wealth, war, and power) drawn chariots.  Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God while Pilate proclaimed the kingdom of the Roman Empire.  Those entering from the east were going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Passover. Those entering from the west were going to reinforce the Roman garrison that overlooked the Jewish temple and its courts, as they often did during the occasion of a Jewish festival.  We experience the confrontation of the two kingdoms as the events of Holy Week continue to unfold with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.


Symbols for Holy Week include:

  • palm branches – were waved joyfully as Jesus entered Jerusalem
  • a basin and towel – symbolic of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples
  • a bag of coins – reminding us of the 30 pieces of silver Judas betrayed Jesus for
  • a lantern – Roman soldiers entered the garden of Gethsemane carrying these
  • a loaf and cup – elements of the last meal Jesus shared with this disciples
  • a rope – used to bind Jesus as he was brought to the High Priest
  • a crown of thorns – placed on Jesus’ head
  • nails – used to nail Jesus on the cross
  • a robe and dice – soldiers gambled to see who would get the robe Jesus was wearing
  • INRI – the inscription place above Jesus, meaning Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews
  • rooster – Jesus told Peter that before the cock crowed, Peter would deny knowing Jesus three times.


Symbols for Easter include:

  • an empty tomb- symbolizing Jesus’ resurrection
  • a butterfly – symbolizing new life and a changed body
  • lilies – the blossom looks like a trumpet sounding the good news of Jesus’ resurrection
  • eggs – Did you know? Eggs have long been a part of spring rituals, predating Christianity.  After a long winter, chickens and birds begin to lay eggs again, each bursting with new life, mirroring other signs of new life unfolding in spring.  Early Christians recognized the power of the egg as a symbol for new life and connected a new chick/bird emerging from its shell as representing Jesus emerging from the tomb.  Eggs also reminded Christians of the Lenten fast.  Eggs, in addition to meat, were not eaten during Lent so they became symbols of Lent turning to Easter.

An early Christian story circulated about Mary Magdalene.  In John’s Gospel, she is the first witness of Jesus’ resurrection, and tradition has it that she spent the rest of her life proclaiming Jesus’ good news.  As the story goes, Mary even addressed the Roman Emperor Tiberius.  Holding an egg in her hand, she declared, “Christ is risen!”  At that the emperor laughed and said the Christ had as much of chance of rising from the dead as the egg in her hand had of turning red.  Immediately, the egg in Mary’s hand turned red.  Could it be that is how the tradition of dying eggs originated?