Easter is more than one Sunday; it’s a season in the Christian liturgical year. Jesus walked on the Earth, teaching His disciples for 40 days after the resurrection. The seven Sunday’s of Easter offer us a time to reflect upon the meaning of the resurrection, the future ministry of the Church, and the eschatological consummation of redemption.
The celebration of the sacraments is an ongoing altar call. For most Pentecostal churches, the altar call is the central event of the worship service. Sinners are encouraged to come forward to the altar to “pray through” to salvation. Believers are encouraged to come to the altar to pray for sanctification, or to “pray through” to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. During the altar service, those who are sick, or otherwise in need, are encouraged to come to the altar. There the church elders will anoint with oil, lay their hands upon the sick, and pray for healing. The celebration of the sacraments in Pentecostal worship should be understood as an opportunity to invite the saints of God once again to the altar to encounter the Holy Spirit in the celebration of water baptism, the Lord’s Supper, foot-washing, and the laying on of hands. Each sacrament directly corresponds to the redemptive work of the Holy Trinity. In this regard, the sacraments are an ongoing altar call in which the believer encounters God through the Holy Spirit.
Several years ago I visited a Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Varna, Bulgaria as they were conducting a worship service. The building dated back to the 12th century and it was beautiful. The candles were glowing, and the incense was burning. The deacon was reading the gospel in an old Slavic language. The liturgy was awesome.
There are no words more significant in any human language than the words spoken by the angel on that first Easter morning. On Good Friday, it seemed that death had claimed one more victim. For fear of their own lives, those closest to Jesus went into hiding. It was just a matter of time before the Roman soldiers would come to arrest them, and possibly each of them would be nailed to a cross of their own. It seemed that with the death of Jesus on the cross, all the hopes of his followers were banished forever.
Footwashing has been observed by the Church for centuries. Some early church fathers understood footwashing as a sacrament and associated it with water baptism. Others used the word “mystery” when speaking of footwashing, and presented it as a sacred rite independent of communion and baptism. Churches representing all Christian traditions, from Roman Catholic to Pentecostal, observe this sacred act. Footwashing has often been adopted by various renewal movements as a protest against abuses of ecclesiastical hierarchy. Because early Pentecostals understood themselves to be a renewal of the “church of the Bible” the practice of footwashing was embraced. Every member was encouraged to observe this sacred act on the basis of fidelity to the Bible and the unity of the Church. Some have questioned the validity of footwashing. However, there are many biblical reasons why we should observe footwashing regularly.