April 13, 2009

Semana Santa

Holy week is a very special time of year for all Christians, but in Latin America, they have an extra special way of celebrating. In Chile, each step along the way of Jesus' last days, his death and resurrection is re-created.  Special care is taken in order to connect His experience to the realities of the world today and emotions run deep, as the people feel a true connection to His pain and thankfulness that they are not alone in their own suffering. Here are a few images of Holy Week in our humble, yet vibrant community:

We started the week with a half an hour procession on Palm Sunday.  Our chapel joined with a neighboring chapel in order to celebrate in community.

Children, adults and "abuelitos" (grandparents) braved the "Hill of Death," a VERY steep hill that leaves even the most fit without breath. Joshua is in the green baby carriage, being pushed by a 10 year old boy that insisted on pushing him around the entire walk.

On Holy Thursday, the entire community was invited to take part in the washing of the feet ceremony, symbolizing the call to be humble servants to our brothers and sisters.  There is a drug rehab center in our neighborhood and the people who are in treatment often participate in our community. It was very touching to see them rise, have their feet washed and to then see them kneel before a peer and offer the same.  Many ended the ritual in tears and hugs.

We followed the Passion of Jesus at stations set up around the neighborhood.  14 different families volunteered to set up an altar and to represent each Station of the Cross.  The families see this as a great honor and an opportunity to give thanks to God for the blessings they have received. It reminded us of the rich faith of our neighbors, despite the material poverty in which they live.  

They adorned their altars with the materials at hand.  This woman didn't have flowers, so she used feather dusters and Christmas garland to praise God.

The Stations of the Cross lasted 3 hours.  The man on crutches walked the entire way, without resting.  The feeling of the people is that if Christ sacrificed so much to save us from our sins, then we should also make sacrifices in life.

These two boys joined in the procession as well.  They had one pair of skates and four feet. So, instead of one using the skates and the other walking, they each used one skate and one shoe, pushing off with the shoed foot and gliding on the skated foot. Good friends share.

Holy Saturday's Easter Vigil was a great event, but unfortunately, we forgot our camera! So, this is Easter morning.  The tradition here is to hide chocolate eggs for the kids to find in the morning.  So, the teenagers in the chapel showed up bright and early to hide the eggs for the younger children. After the egg hunt, they stayed around the chapel to play ping pong and soccer before mass at noon.


Lilly said...

My Holy Week started with a lively Palm Sunday celebration. Tuesday was music rehearsal for upcoming services. Wednesday, Praise Service and Bible Study (I had Bell choir rehearsal). Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday) was a re-living of the passover meal, the Last Supper. My family and some other church members sang songs of praise while the congregation went to the Table in groups of 12 to take communion. On Good Friday (Passion Friday) we had a service of the 7 last words (phrases) of Christ. There were many tears as we remembered His love and His pain and His willingness to die to make us free. The service ended with an invitation to come to the altar and pray. Many (including I) spent some time there. Saturday there was a community Easter Egg Hunt for all children. The story of Easter was read to about 120 children and their parents and joyful songs were sung. On Sunday we sang the triumphant hymns, Up From the Grave He Arose, He Lives, Sing to the King and more. The pastor preached on Galatians 2:17-21. Then I spent the rest of the day with my extended family at my Grandparents where there was more singing and egg hunting and lots of eating. Wonderful exhausting week. My favorite time of year. I love the way our mutual celebration binds us together world-wide. :D

Juliana said...

Awesome pictures and commentaries. Holy week is like a whole different experience in Latin America. Hopefully we will be able to join the fun fairly soon.

Happy Easter,

Love, Meri and Dan