Holy Week at the Pipers’

A Month of Preparation for Easter

Ordinarily at the Piper house, we begin looking toward Easter near the beginning of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday. That was February 21 this year. During the season, we have special devotional readings each Sunday. Along with the readings, we use candles to help us symbolize what was happening as the world moved toward Jesus’ death.

On the first Sunday of Lent, which would be the 6th Sunday before Easter—February 25 this year—7 candles are burning. During the Bible reading, one is snuffed out. The 2nd Sunday’s devotional time begins with 6 candles burning and one is snuffed out during the reading, and so on through the weeks. The 7th candle is blown out on Good Friday.

Then on Easter, during the reading, all the candles are lit. At our house, the candles are the centerpiece for all our table gatherings on Easter.

The Symbolism of the Seven Candles

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). But for a while it seemed as if the darkness was overcoming—for a long while.

The seven candles symbolize the Light of the World—the Light that was God’s glory and that illuminated God for us—the Light that, in the end, seemed to have been darkened. As we move through the season preceding Easter, the candles are snuffed out one by one, until all are dark on Good Friday, when Jesus died and the earth was covered with shadow. Darkness apparently had won. The Light of the World had been extinguished. It was finished.

But NO! Easter brings resurrection! Life! Return from death! The Light has won, and all the candles burn as we praise him—the Light of the World, the Bright Morning Star, the Glory of God.

A Unique Easter Preparation

This year, God gave us Pipers a unique preparation for Easter. Early in the Lenten season, my husband went to South Carolina and was with his father as he declined rapidly and died. This year, our eyes are opened wider to the bright hope we have in the reality of Jesus’ resurrection.

A Week of Preparation for Easter

But now we have less that 2 weeks till Easter, and we haven’t begun our usual weeks-long candle and devotions tradition.

So this year we will use the devotions and candle daily, beginning the Saturday of Palm Sunday weekend, tomorrow, March 31. That is what works for us this time. And actually, daily over one week is probably the best way to do it if there are small children in a home, because the weeks of Lent can seem to stretch out too long to hold a child’s attention.

I invite you to join us these coming days of Holy Week—you in your home, we in ours—as Scripture reminds us of ways God has extended mercy to people over all the centuries of human existence, and reminds us that most people have rejected that mercy, rejected it so completely that they even killed his Son. And then Scripture will call us to rejoice that the Light of the World CANNOT be darkened eternally—only for 3 days.

[A fuller explanation of our Easter traditions, including how to make a playdough mountain, is excerpted from Treasuring God in Our Traditions and posted over at Crosswalk.com.]