Pastors share thoughts on Easter, Holy Week

By Staff
March 24, 2002
In this special Easter themed editorial board interview, The Meridian Star asked pastors from Meridian area churches to respond to four questions. Participants were: The Rev. Shirley Yoder Brubaker, interim co-pastor of Jubilee Mennonite Church; Sister Andr Burkhart, pastoral associate of St. Joseph/St. Patrick Catholic churches; the Rev. Dr. Charles Johnson, pastor of Church of the Nazarene; the Rev. Raymon Leake, pastor of First Baptist Church; and the Rev. Donald Naylor, pastor of Gilfield Missionary Baptist Church, Pushmataha, Ala.
The Meridian Star: In the wake of what's happened in recent months namely, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks how will the observance of Easter be affected?
Brubaker: "Recent news events have given all of us a renewed appreciation for the gift of life and the reality of death and those two are the essence of the Easter message. Our earthly deaths can now have eternal meaning because of Christ's death and resurrection. And what more hope can any of us have than that our lives have a meaning and purpose beyond the routines and tragedies of this life?"
Burkhart: "Since the 9-11 attack, our Catholic members have continued to pray for all of the persons involved in the conflict to gain peace. We are affected because some of our members have been deployed and therefore absent from our services and their homes."
Johnson: "I don't think that 9-11 will deter the observance of Easter because Easter is the Christian's holiest day and no past or present terrorism can stop this day of celebration of the news that Jesus Christ is risen!"
Leake: "Easter is our reminder that whatever comes, there is hope. Whatever Sept. 11 includes the deaths of friends and family, financial disaster, failure and guilt  the message still is that there is hope. Our Easter celebration will not differ greatly this year from other Years We'll still celebrate that same hope!"
Naylor: "I really believe that Easter will be celebrated across America as usual: Those who go to church going, and those who do not, doing whatever comes natural."
The Star: There are so many denominations of faith, yet most come together in the observance of Christ's crucifixion and celebration of his resurrection. How do you account for the differences?
Brubaker: Most Christian denominations and faiths share the same core beliefs. Our differences tend to have more to do with how we practice our beliefs and styles of worship. There is no more basic foundation to the Christian faith than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and, consequently, despite our differences, we can celebrate together the foundation we share in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God."
Burkhart: I believe that many persons follow that inner call from the Father and follow that daily call. It does not matter which church you attend. We, as Christians, ALL believe in the God of Heaven and earth. The differences came when people began to change their ideas and had different faith issues. Some of these faith issues were life changing.
I have no problem with others' religious beliefs, creed or denomination. We have to do what we know that God calls us to do. It brings great sorrow when some persons criticize other religions and put them down as false. God is everyone's God! Let us rejoice in that and celebrate.
Johnson: "The Christian may differ in how a person comes to Christ or what it takes to live their Christian life, but the majority of Christians, no matter what denomination, believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that the point that can bring them all together is celebration of his resurrection."
Leake: "When pointing to differences, my father would always say, That's the reason they make chocolate and vanilla.' People are different and the church has accommodated those differences. Thankfully, we aren't all stamped from the same mold, cookie cutter fashion. That really is not the way God made us, and it's not the way we ought to live our faith."
Naylor: "Each faith/denomination observes Christ in the way they received Him in their hearts. Yet, the most notable thing is, all roads lead to the same target. The only difference is in the method, the road we choose to get there."
The Star: How does your church celebrate Holy Week?
Brubaker: "On Maundy Thursday, we will meet in the church to share a meal followed by a footwashing service. We will conclude that evening with a Tenebrae service. On Friday, we will join in the community Prayer Walk. Easter Sunday we will begin with a breakfast together in the church and then a worship celebration."
Burkhart: "This special Holy Week for us begins with a special blessing of Palms and then a procession into the churches on Palm or Passion Sunday. We also have the complete reading of the passion and death of Jesus Christ during our mass. We do not include in that scripture reading the resurrection. This is saved for Easter Sunday.