The Cemeteries of Holy Week

It is clockwork. Virtually every year you can count on it. Holy Week is the most dangerous week of the year to be a Christian.

It is the week in which Jesus was killed, and it should surprise no one that his followers are killed that same week, every single year, in droves.

This year the big attack was Resurrection Sunday in Sri Lanka of course. The numbers keep climbing upward, and the more details that come out only add to the horror of it.

 

screen grab

But don't forget the Palm Sunday attack in Numa, Nigeria last week in which 17 were killed.

You didn't hear about that one?

It happened. It happened at a baby dedication. The mother is dead, the father is in critical condition.

The news media, who did not tell you about it, would like you to learn more about Pete Buttigieg.

Last year was a slight anomaly from the pattern, with relatively few attacks during Holy Week itself. It was the broader season of Lent, which kicked off in Nigeria with two separate attacks totaling 32 Christians killed, and churches burned on February 27. On Palm Sunday in Burewala, Pakistan, seven were wounded when terrorists attacked a church. A week later, on Easter Sunday in Quetta, Pakistan four were machine gunned to death.

In 2017 it was suicide bombers in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt during Palm Sunday church services totaling 47. In 2016 it was a bomb in Lahore, Pakistan killing 78. In 2015 it was 148 in Garissa, Kenya on Maundy Thursday. In 2014 it was between 79 and 120 killed in Yar Galadina, Nigeria. (News reports are not clear).

The list goes on. Somewhere in the world a new cemetery is built every Easter, just for Christians.

The goal is to close down the churches. When your only tool is death you learn to hate the faith that believes in a resurrection. The date of that resurrection is Easter Sunday.

If Christians stop attending church on the day of their victory over death, then the cult of death and terror wins. That is the goal. If it means they get to kill a few (hundred) Christians on the road to that goal, then all the better for them.

On the day we celebrate life from the dead, they kill. If a Christian fears death, he is not a Christian. A Christian is someone who believes in Easter. That is all.

If Christians can be brought to fear death, then it discredits the faith. In fact, Christians throughout history have thrived under intense persecution. The faith spreads when Christians are killed. Killings do not scare the faithful. Rather, they are encouraged. They remember their lost church members and honor their faith by carrying it forward to multiply.

They see the cost before their eyes. They know what they are living for, and they know it could cost their lives. There are no half-hearted ones. When the fire of faith burns that intensely, it cannot be put out, and it spreads quickly.

They may need to get smart about how and where they meet, but they will continue to meet, and they will continue to spread without fear. In ancient Rome it was the sewers, now called catacombs. Today, in these dangerous countries, there are churches conducted on buses driving through town, so as not to attract attention and to be a moving target if they do. Others meet in homes, in basements, and meet in the dark and do not know each other’s real names. But they continue, and they grow.

Death, and the threat of death cannot stop a faith that is based on resurrection.

Meanwhile in the USA

Based on media reports, the Coachella music festival was our biggest cultural event over the weekend. For some reason, Coachella is nearly always scheduled to run from Good Friday through Easter Sunday and dominate the headlines of certain media sites.

I have never met anyone who could explain to me why Coachella is important or significant, but this past weekend, any media reporters not promoting the impeachment of Donald Trump were gushing over Kanye West's corporate "Sunday Service" at Coachella, and his $50 Jesus socks. TMZ is very happy to report that West brought in 50,000 people to listen to him perform various pop songs that have a "spiritual component" to them.

Nobody reports that 50,000 people attending a "Sunday service" is a regular occurrence at dozens of churches every single Sunday of the year in this country. On Easter Sunday, way out in the rural districts where 50,000 people may straddle three counties combined, fully half of them will attend a "Sunday Service" without the aid of celebrities or the news media.

The worship leaders at these churches have every bit as much musical talent as Kanye West (though not his hunger for fame) and far more integrity and sincerity in their worship. That isn't news according to our media leaders. But a celebrity selling $50 socks at a corporately-owned Woodstock in California on Easter Sunday is a figure worthy of great admiration.

In Sri Lanka they are trying to shut down Easter by fire and blood. In America they are trying to shut it down by ignoring it altogether and promoting a cheap substitute.

Neither trick will work against the truly faithful, but direct attacks have a way of steeling the nerves. It puts the cost in the forefront and forces a decision. Corporate "spiritual" events with money and food and entertainment are an entirely different kind of attack, specifically because they do not feel like one.

When I speak with overseas pastors and missionaries, especially those in the dangerous regions, they always tell me the same two things. They ask for prayer to remain faithful during threats and violence. And then they say they are praying for us in America, that we remain faithful through the temptations, the greed, and the subtle draw of fame, money and glamour that insinuates itself into every corner of American life.

Church attendance is broadly shrinking in the USA while it is growing in the majority of the nations in which physical attacks are taking place.

That is the fascinating thing about Christianity. Try to kill it, and it will spread. Kill Jesus and he will rise from the dead. Kill his followers and they will multiply. Bomb the churches and they will multiply in the streets.

The way to close churches is not to bomb them but to replace them with something glamourous and vaguely "spiritual." Convince them that the true meaning of Easter is family time, or bunnies, or unity or some other thing. Any other thing will do, as long as it isn't a resurrected king Jesus.

Before long someone will come along and try to convince them that it is a music festival with special socks. It is hard to say which is the greater abomination.

Get the cemeteries ready, because the faithful will not be fooled.

T.S.Weidler is a pastor in central Pennsylvania. He can be contacted through email.

It is clockwork. Virtually every year you can count on it. Holy Week is the most dangerous week of the year to be a Christian.

It is the week in which Jesus was killed, and it should surprise no one that his followers are killed that same week, every single year, in droves.

This year the big attack was Resurrection Sunday in Sri Lanka of course. The numbers keep climbing upward, and the more details that come out only add to the horror of it.

 

screen grab

But don't forget the Palm Sunday attack in Numa, Nigeria last week in which 17 were killed.

You didn't hear about that one?

It happened. It happened at a baby dedication. The mother is dead, the father is in critical condition.

The news media, who did not tell you about it, would like you to learn more about Pete Buttigieg.

Last year was a slight anomaly from the pattern, with relatively few attacks during Holy Week itself. It was the broader season of Lent, which kicked off in Nigeria with two separate attacks totaling 32 Christians killed, and churches burned on February 27. On Palm Sunday in Burewala, Pakistan, seven were wounded when terrorists attacked a church. A week later, on Easter Sunday in Quetta, Pakistan four were machine gunned to death.

In 2017 it was suicide bombers in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt during Palm Sunday church services totaling 47. In 2016 it was a bomb in Lahore, Pakistan killing 78. In 2015 it was 148 in Garissa, Kenya on Maundy Thursday. In 2014 it was between 79 and 120 killed in Yar Galadina, Nigeria. (News reports are not clear).

The list goes on. Somewhere in the world a new cemetery is built every Easter, just for Christians.

The goal is to close down the churches. When your only tool is death you learn to hate the faith that believes in a resurrection. The date of that resurrection is Easter Sunday.

If Christians stop attending church on the day of their victory over death, then the cult of death and terror wins. That is the goal. If it means they get to kill a few (hundred) Christians on the road to that goal, then all the better for them.

On the day we celebrate life from the dead, they kill. If a Christian fears death, he is not a Christian. A Christian is someone who believes in Easter. That is all.

If Christians can be brought to fear death, then it discredits the faith. In fact, Christians throughout history have thrived under intense persecution. The faith spreads when Christians are killed. Killings do not scare the faithful. Rather, they are encouraged. They remember their lost church members and honor their faith by carrying it forward to multiply.

They see the cost before their eyes. They know what they are living for, and they know it could cost their lives. There are no half-hearted ones. When the fire of faith burns that intensely, it cannot be put out, and it spreads quickly.

They may need to get smart about how and where they meet, but they will continue to meet, and they will continue to spread without fear. In ancient Rome it was the sewers, now called catacombs. Today, in these dangerous countries, there are churches conducted on buses driving through town, so as not to attract attention and to be a moving target if they do. Others meet in homes, in basements, and meet in the dark and do not know each other’s real names. But they continue, and they grow.

Death, and the threat of death cannot stop a faith that is based on resurrection.

Meanwhile in the USA

Based on media reports, the Coachella music festival was our biggest cultural event over the weekend. For some reason, Coachella is nearly always scheduled to run from Good Friday through Easter Sunday and dominate the headlines of certain media sites.

I have never met anyone who could explain to me why Coachella is important or significant, but this past weekend, any media reporters not promoting the impeachment of Donald Trump were gushing over Kanye West's corporate "Sunday Service" at Coachella, and his $50 Jesus socks. TMZ is very happy to report that West brought in 50,000 people to listen to him perform various pop songs that have a "spiritual component" to them.

Nobody reports that 50,000 people attending a "Sunday service" is a regular occurrence at dozens of churches every single Sunday of the year in this country. On Easter Sunday, way out in the rural districts where 50,000 people may straddle three counties combined, fully half of them will attend a "Sunday Service" without the aid of celebrities or the news media.

The worship leaders at these churches have every bit as much musical talent as Kanye West (though not his hunger for fame) and far more integrity and sincerity in their worship. That isn't news according to our media leaders. But a celebrity selling $50 socks at a corporately-owned Woodstock in California on Easter Sunday is a figure worthy of great admiration.

In Sri Lanka they are trying to shut down Easter by fire and blood. In America they are trying to shut it down by ignoring it altogether and promoting a cheap substitute.

Neither trick will work against the truly faithful, but direct attacks have a way of steeling the nerves. It puts the cost in the forefront and forces a decision. Corporate "spiritual" events with money and food and entertainment are an entirely different kind of attack, specifically because they do not feel like one.

When I speak with overseas pastors and missionaries, especially those in the dangerous regions, they always tell me the same two things. They ask for prayer to remain faithful during threats and violence. And then they say they are praying for us in America, that we remain faithful through the temptations, the greed, and the subtle draw of fame, money and glamour that insinuates itself into every corner of American life.

Church attendance is broadly shrinking in the USA while it is growing in the majority of the nations in which physical attacks are taking place.

That is the fascinating thing about Christianity. Try to kill it, and it will spread. Kill Jesus and he will rise from the dead. Kill his followers and they will multiply. Bomb the churches and they will multiply in the streets.

The way to close churches is not to bomb them but to replace them with something glamourous and vaguely "spiritual." Convince them that the true meaning of Easter is family time, or bunnies, or unity or some other thing. Any other thing will do, as long as it isn't a resurrected king Jesus.

Before long someone will come along and try to convince them that it is a music festival with special socks. It is hard to say which is the greater abomination.

Get the cemeteries ready, because the faithful will not be fooled.

T.S.Weidler is a pastor in central Pennsylvania. He can be contacted through email.