Holy Week is a sacred time in the Church. Arguably, Easter represents the beginning of the Church even more than the birth of Jesus at Christmas. What Jesus did on the cross was to make a way for anyone – everyone – to have a closer connection with God. Before that first Easter week, the Bible teaches that a sacrifice was needed – usually in the form of an animal and, even then, there were strict rules about who could do what when it came to religious observances. These sacrifices were how people were forgiven of their sins. The story of Jesus’ death marks the time when humankind no longer needed to go through a priest or religious leader but could be forgiven directly and could enter into a relationship that would last for eternity.
Once. For all.
We often cite our mission as being to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human need in His name without discrimination. However, the official mission statement is a little more thorough and begins with The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. When we serve people or gather on Sundays for worship, we do so out of a love for people that is directly inspired by the love that we believe God has for each person.
That’s where we start. Each Holy Week, we are reminded that we take as our foundation the idea that God loved all of His creation with such intensity that He was willing to sacrifice His own son. His plan included a way for all of humanity to experience love and meaning and purpose. Jesus’ death has implications for when we die but it also has great implications for how we live on a daily basis. The Salvation Army believes that living a good life includes modeling our actions on the way that Jesus, who served the poor, who healed the sick, and who comforted those who wept.
It is because of what happened during that first Easter Week that we do what we do. Jesus’ life and death was about serving those who were in need in very real and practical ways. It is because we try and model our lives after His that we are compelled to serve anyone – everyone – who needs our help. We cannot offer salvation from sin, but we can offer salvation from hunger with a warm meal. We can offer salvation from homelessness with a safe roof overhead.
We can offer salvation from hopelessness with the assurance that there is something better.