The holiest week

Friday, April 9, 2004

As Holy Week draws to a close, some of the observances that are most important to Christians will be repeated in many churches.

Today, Good Friday services will recall the events of the passion.

As the observance of Holy Saturday ends at sundown, many churches will observe the Great Vigil of Easter with the kindling of a new fire to restore light to darkened churches.

Sunday's crowded morning services will celebrate the resurrection of the Christ with its joyful themes.

While different denominations find a variety of ways to mark these special occasions, two events have taken on a communitywide appeal.

One is the Way of the Cross walk through downtown Cape Girardeau sponsored by the Downtown Council of Churches. The walk will begin at 12:15 p.m. at Old St. Vincent's Church and wind its way along city's oldest streets, stopping 14 times for special readings.

The Cape Girardeau Way of the Cross is based on the Stations of the Cross that arose from the Middle Ages when Christian pilgrims were unable to visit the Holy Land because of ongoing warfare, much of it due to religious differences. Christians in Europe began to create artistic representations of the major events in the passion of Jesus Christ from the judgment hall of Pilate in Jerusalem to his crucifixion site at Golgotha.

Today, most Roman Catholic churches and those of a few other denominations prominently display the Way of the Cross through special artwork. For those participating in the downtown walk today, it will be an opportunity to join believers from a variety of denominations and walks of life in an event intended to display the common beliefs about the passion and the resurrection that bring Christians together.

Another event draws Christians together early on Easter morning: the sunrise service. Many churches will have their own special observances at dawn, and the Downtown Council of Churches sunrise service will be at 6:30 a.m. at Riverfront Park. As the first rays of sunshine appear over the hills across the river in Illinois, worshippers will sing, pray and hear about the triumph over death that is the core belief of all Christians.

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