Roundtable: Holy Week Activities in Different Regions

A Good Friday service of meditation was conducted at the International Church in Ningbo, Zhejiang, on March 29, 2024.
A Good Friday service of meditation was conducted at the International Church in Ningbo, Zhejiang, on March 29, 2024.
By CCD EditorialApril 12th, 2024

At Christmas, most churches in China celebrate with singing and dancing; while during Easter, some churches do not observe it, some places emphasize Easter more than Christmas. During the recent Holy Week and Easter in 2024, after visiting churches in provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Sichuan, Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Liaoning, editors of the Gospel Times, an online Christian Newspaper in China, shared similarities and differences of the activities, with their names being fictitious.

The degree of emphasis on Holy Week and Easter would be different

Xiao Dai: I feel that churches in towns and suburbs pay less attention to Easter than Christmas. They celebrate Christmas in a rustic way, but they have almost no activities during Holy Week and Easter.

Xiao Fu: At a church in Ningbo, Zhejiang, I saw flowers around candles arranged in the shape of a cross, and decorations at the church entrance resembling an open tomb. The programs were diverse as well.

Xiao Yin: Pastors and church staff at a church in Chengdu, Sichuan, all fasted and prayed on Good Friday, with believers invited to join them. As the church was open all day, Christians could come in to pray or watch videos about Jesus' Passion.

Xiao Shi: In addition to these, I also encountered churches that had no decorations at all, but only preached relevant sermons on Good Friday and Easter.

Forms of observing Holy Week and Easter in churches

Xiao Shi: In a Palm Sunday service, choir members waved palm branches, shouting "Hosanna!" Baptisms were held in several churches on Easter Sunday in that city.

Xiao Fu: On Good Friday, I attended a fasting and prayer meeting from 8:30 am to 3 pm. The host led attendees in reflecting on the seven sayings of Jesus from the cross and praying. At another modern church in this city, believers recited the "Passion Symphony," bringing congregants back to the scene of Jesus' journey to the cross.

Xiao Yin: I attended a foot-washing and communion service on Maundy Thursday. A female pastor washed the feet of ten women selected from church volunteers, and last year, male volunteers’ feet were washed by a male pastor. On Friday morning, there was a meditation on the Stations of the Cross, with explanations at each station, linking Jesus' experience to the lives of believers.

Xiao Dai: On Good Friday, during the Stations of the Cross activity, the pastor carried a cross in and around the church building with believers following, many of whom cried out loudly.

Differences in preaching

Xiao Dai: A pastor said during his sermon on Holy Week that reading the relevant scriptures about Jesus' Passion made him feel as if he were at the scene of the Passion. On Easter Sunday, another pastor declared at the beginning of the sermon, "The Lord Jesus Christ has risen! The Lord Jesus Christ has truly risen!"

Xiao Fu: I attended a traditional church for Easter, where the first words of the host were "The Lord has risen!" and then believers also told each other, "The Lord has risen!" During the evangelistic rally in the evening, the first ten rows of seats in the main building were left for seekers. After the sermon on "The Meaning of Life," many people responded to the call and made decisions to believe in Christ.

Xiao Yin: On Easter Sunday, a pastor mentioned that Mary sought Him not for her benefit but solely to anoint Jesus' body, so she could encounter the risen Lord.

Xiao Shi: Some churches conducted activities every day during Holy Week, such as devotionals and meditations on the scriptures, and the sermons this week were conventional.

Most memorable scenes from Holy Week and Easter

Xiao Fu: On Good Friday, a long and wide black ribbon draped over the cross before the altar, with a sense of solemn darkness spreading. On Easter Sunday, the ribbon was changed to red. In another large modern church, there was a large golden cross in front, with many small wooden cross necklaces hanging on it. Church staff took down one necklace and put it on every believer's neck before they took communion, symbolizing their bearing the cross with Jesus.

Xiao Yin: Before a church service started, a large black cloth covered believers who were seated, with darkness enveloping them. This allowed them to experience seeing the light in the darkness. In the drama "Opening the Darkest Corner," three Christian men played and sang. Two of them were visually impaired, which didn't affect their worship of God.

Xiao Shi: I think videos and music are crucial. When the music describing Jesus' Passion played during the communion service, many believers began to cry. On Friday evening, we watched "The Passion of the Christ," which gave us a visceral experience of the sufferings Jesus went through.

Xiao Dai: The choir's performance deeply moved me. On Good Friday, choir members narrated Jesus' Passion scenes with soothing and solemn tones; on Easter, they grandly proclaimed Jesus' resurrection.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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