BYU professors share experiences in the Holy Land during Easter time

Published: Thursday, March 28 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

“On Friday we went to several different services throughout the course of the day,” Huntsman said. “Perhaps the most special thing was when my daughter and I went to the Garden Tomb and thought about what Christ’s burial was like.”

Easter Sunday is celebrated in many reverent ways, beginning with a Sunrise Service on the Mount of Olives.

Wilson and the other LDS members gathered together with other Christians to watch the sun come up and shine on Jerusalem.

After the sunrise service, Wilson attended his church meetings where partaking of the sacrament impacted him like it never had before.

“When I reached out for that little piece of bread in an LDS sacrament service on Easter Sunday, I was looking at the actual sight of Christ’s crucifixion,” Wilson said. “We were singing ‘There is a Green Hill Far Away’ and looking at that place across the ravine.”

Another tradition on Easter Sunday is the lighting of the candles where worshipers meet in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and gather around the main tomb, which Catholics believe to be the main tomb of the sepulcher. Each person holds a candle and they wait for a priest to come out of the tomb with his candle, representing Christ bringing forth light to the world.

Celebrating Holy Week in Jerusalem gave both Wilson and Huntsman a strong desire to bring home a deeper meaning of Easter to America.

“I realized you don’t need to be in the Holy Land to have some of these experiences,” Huntsman said. “We commemorate events, not places.”

Wilson is excited that the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sent out a letter the past two years to bishops and stake presidents informing them of the importance of Easter and recommending that they have special lessons and programs related to the holiday.

“It’s just fun to see that maybe the church is sensing that we could celebrate more, because it’s the epicenter of our faith,” Wilson said. “Joseph Smith said that everything else in our religion is an appendage to the fact that Jesus died and rose again on the third day. Celebrating that event seems like we could never overdo it.”

Megan Marsden is an intern with the Deseret News writing for the Faith & Family section. She is currently a junior at BYU-Idaho studying communication. The views of the writer do not reflect the views of BYU-Idaho.

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