Gospels and Acts of the Apostles
Besides Easter, are any other events on the church calendar associated with the death and resurrection of Jesus?
Yes. The week prior to Easter Sunday is called Holy Week. Churches around the world commemorate Holy Week in a variety of ways, and to varying degrees.
The Sunday before Easter Sunday is Palm Sunday. This commemorates Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem, when people spread palm branches before him. The event is memorialized with special songs and the waving of palm fronds. Some churches burn the fronds and save the ashes for the next year’s Ash Wednesday services.
The Thursday of Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday. Most likely, the word “maundy” is derived from the Latin, “mandatum,” which is the origin of the word “mandate.” A mandate, or command, is what Jesus gave the apostles when he told them at the Last Supper after he washed their feet, “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (NRSV, John 13:14–15) Usually, the washing of people’s feet was the responsibility of a servant, or whoever was of lowest status in the house. So by commanding the apostles to wash each other’s feet, Jesus was upending expectations. Jesus wanted the apostles to carry the practice of service and humility into all areas of their lives. Some churches commemorate the day with a solemn service. Some churches commemorate the day by having foot washing ceremonies.
The Friday of Holy Week is called Good Friday. It is called Good, not because of Jesus’ ordeal itself, but because of the results of the ordeal—the resurrection of Jesus, which saved all people from their sins. The day is marked with solemn services.