This is one of the busiest times for the many central San Joaquin Valley churches preparing to deliver Easter messages.
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.
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 are some of the events planned to celebrate Holy Week:
• AtSaint Columba Church
in northwest Fresno, the procession of the palms opens the 10 a.m. Palm Sunday, March 29 service. The church also has special plans for Maundy Thursday, April 2; Good Friday, April 3; and Holy Saturday, April 4. Congregants are invited to bring flowers for the “flowering of the cross” in the courtyard.
Saint Columba Church is at 5073 N. Palm Ave., across from Fig Garden Village. Details: (559) 229-8534.
• Guests at theChurch of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
in Hanford are invited to wear red on Palm Sunday to celebrate this weekends’ Liturgies.
The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is at 10435 Hanford Armona Road. Details: (559) 584-8576 or www.ihmhanford.org.
church in Calwa, the Good Friday tradition known as Stations of the Cross will be reenacted by young parish actors beginning at 10 a.m. April 3. Christians worldwide celebrate Stations of the Cross, a step-by-step re-creation of the final moments of Jesus’ life, as a story of religious and spiritual passion. For members of St. Anthony Mary Claret in the southeast Fresno neighborhood, it’s also an opportunity to display passion for their Mexican heritage. The congregation of 1,300 is predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American.
St. Anthony Mary Claret is at 2494 S. Chestnut Ave., just south of Church Avenue. Details: (559) 255-4260.
in northeast Fresno celebrates “The Way of the Cross,” a self-guided interactive event for people of all ages. It’s 14 stations where guests can stop and consider how the suffering of Jesus has impacted their life. At the last station of the journey, communion will be served.
The event will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on April 3 at Peoples Church, 7172 N. Cedar Ave. Details: (559) 298-8001 or www.peopleschurch.org.
• AtMemorial United Methodist Church
in Clovis, the Liturgical Daredevils plan a different kind of worship experience at 9:30 a.m. Easter Sunday, April 5. The traditional service will be at 11 a.m. with choir, organ and hymns. The Hmong language service will be at 3 p.m.
Memorial United Methodist Church is at 1726 Pollasky Ave. Details: (559) 299-4615 or www.mem-umc.org.
•Clovis Hills Community Church
has a busy Easter weekend highlighted by one of the Valley’s egg drops.
Good Friday Worship and Lord’s Supper is at 6:30 p.m. April 3; a carnival will be held from 1:30-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 4; Sunrise Easter services will be held at 6:30 a.m. Sunday, April 5; and the church will drop 15,000 eggs filled with candy from a helicopter at 10:05 a.m. April 5.
Clovis Hills Community Church is at 10590 N. Willow Ave. Details: (559) 297-2600 or www.clovishills.com.
•Northside Christian Church
in Clovis will have a celebrity speaker at three services Easter weekend: Jim White, who inspired the Disney movie “McFarland, USA.” White will speak at 6 p.m. April 4 and 9 and 11 a.m. April 5. The church also is planning a glow-in-the-dark egg hunt for children after service April 4. There also will be regular egg hunts during both services April 5.
The church is at 2709 E. Nees Ave. Details: (559) 323-9675, northsidechurch.com.
There are, of course, many more special services planned during Holy Week. Check with your local church for details.