This is one of the busiest times for central San Joaquin Valley churches, which are preparing to deliver Easter messages as well as brace for higher attendance on Easter weekend April 19-20.
Before that weekend arrives, churches also are presenting special services and events during Holy Week, which marks the significant events in Jesus' final days that lead up to Easter.
Christian Holy Week begins Sunday, which is Palm Sunday.
This year, Holy Week in the Orthodox Christian calendar coincides with the Western calendar.
Some churches mark Palm Sunday by having parishioners wave palm fronds to recount Jesus' triumphal entry on a donkey into Jerusalem, where people envisioned him as a king against Roman oppression.
Holy Week continues with Tenebrae Wednesday, a service marked by darkness, focusing on Christ's suffering; Maundy Thursday, Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples; Good Friday, his Crucifixion at Calvary; and Easter Sunday, marking his Resurrection from the tomb.
Here is a listing of some Valley services and events:
--A special, intergenerational Sunday School class — for both adults and children — will re-enact Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem at 9:15 a.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 5955 S. Elm Ave., Easton.
There also will be an interactive lesson.
Details: (559) 237-7909.
--A dramatic presentation — "A Celebration of Truth" — debuts at 10 a.m. at The Revival Center, 2221 Villa Ave., Clovis.
The play features nine scenes from biblical accounts, pointing to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Performances also will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 7 p.m. Friday.
Details: therevivalcenter.info or (559) 897-9575.
A service — featuring Psalms, lessons and prayers that form a prolonged contemplation of the events of Jesus' last days — is scheduled at 7 p.m. at Holy Family Episcopal Church, 1135 E. Alluvial Ave.
His last days are characterized at the service by the extinguishing of candles until at the end, only one is left burning, providing a hint of the promised Resurrection.
Details: (559) 439-5011.
--An Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper — celebrated in Spanish and English — is at 7 p.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 10355 Hanford-Armona Road, Hanford.
The Mass begins the Paschal Triduum, the three days that are considered by Catholics as the holiest in their liturgical year.
The observance continues at Immaculate Heart with a solemn service of the Lord's Passion at 1 p.m. on Good Friday and a bilingual Great Easter Vigil at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Details: (559) 584-8576.
--A Walking the Via Dolorosa experience takes place from 5 to 8 p.m.Thursday at Campus Bible Church, 4710 N. Maple Ave.
This is the fourth year of the event, which is designed to help people experience the last days and hours of Jesus' life through creatively designed stations. It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk the stations.
The event also is scheduled 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Friday.
Details: (559) 291-9116.
--An interactive tour of the Stations of the Cross — "The Way of the Cross" — is from noon to 8 p.m. at Peoples Church, 7172 N. Cedar Ave.
This is the third edition of the event, which is designed for people to hear, touch, look at, taste and contemplate the suffering of Jesus' arrest, trial and death as well as the denial of him.
The tour is staged in several buildings at the church.
Details: (559) 298-8001.
--A special Easter concert with Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Tramaine Hawkins is at 5 p.m. April 19 at Westside Church of God, 1424 W. California Ave.
Cost is $20 in advance or $25 at the door.
Details: (559) 375-5576.
--An author/former mob leader will be the special guest at Easter weekend services at 6 p.m. April 19 and 9 and 11 a.m. Easter Sunday, April 20, at Northside Christian Church in Clovis, 2709 E. Nees Ave.
Michael Franzese, considered one of the 50 biggest Mafia bosses since Al Capone, will share his faith story.
Details: (559) 323-9675.
--An Easter Sunday sunrise service is at 7 a.m. April 20 on the lawn at Central Community Church, 4710 N. Polk Ave.
After the service, a French toast breakfast will be available at 8 a.m. Cost is $5.
The church also will present Easter Sunday services at 9:30 and 11 a.m. April 20.
Details: (559) 271-8869.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6304, email@example.com or @ronorozco_bee on Twitter.