We have come to the holiest few days of the Christian year.
The 40 days of Lent are nearly behind us and we are hunkering down for the intensity of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Services of a variety of denominations and styles abound, and are listed here (all that typing is apparently my final Lenten penance).
For those of you who are not Christian or don't come from a liturgical tradition that holds special services for these days, here's my abbreviated Holy Week glossary:
Holy (or Maundy) Thursday: Services this evening officially end Lent. The scripture attached to the day centers around Jesus's last supper. He gathers for the Passover seder with his disciples and does two astonishing things. First, he washes their feet - a gesture usually performed by a lowly servant - and says go and do likewise. In other words, our job is to serve others. Many services will incorporate foot washing. Later in the meal, he takes the bread, blesses it and said "Take, eat; this is my body." This is seen as the institution of communion or the Lord's Supper.
Good Friday: The day Jesus died. Many somber services will reflect on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. For Catholics, it is a day of fasting.
Holy Saturday: Saturday tends to get a little overlooked. In terms of remembering as a way to kind of relive the events of Jesus' death, it should be another somber day. Jesus is still in the tomb, so to speak. After sundown, the mood changes. In the Catholic church, this is the time we begin to celebrate Easter and we baptize and confirm those adults who are joining the church.
Easter: The holiest day of the year. Christians believe Jesus has risen from the dead. Sermons will usually reflect on the glorious occasion and how Jesus's resurrection gives us hope for the same joy after death. We are through fasting and can rejoice.