(Photo: Willow Creek Association)
This Holy Week will be special at Willow Creek Community Church of South Barrington, Ill., one of the largest churches in America, as it helps members and others walk alongside Jesus from Palm Sunday through Easter with on-site and online meditations.
"At Willow we are all committed to honoring Christ to the fullest extent possible over the next eight days, beginning with our Palm Sunday services," says Willow Creek Senior Pastor Bill Hybels. "By concentrating on His activities and priorities during Holy Week, we can reflect on our own choices and in doing so, we can learn a ton."
On Palm Sunday, Pastor Hybels has invited Dr. Gary Burge, who teaches New Testament at Wheaton College, to deliver a Palm Sunday message examining Jesus' final week in Jerusalem leading up to His crucifixion.
Not just church members, but anyone can plug into some of the church's efforts to engage in the dramatic events Jesus experienced that week.
The church is launching an online devotional tool on Palm Sunday that can serve as a guide to Christians' daily reflection time. "Thousands of you have located your 'Chair' and have built up the practice of spending 15 minutes in it each day to read God's Word and to pray," says Hybels. "During Holy Week, I encourage you to use the online tool that has been created specifically for the eight days beginning Palm Sunday and concluding on Easter Sunday and see how God speaks to you through it."
The Willow Creek website is inviting Christians to subscribe to the Holy Week devotional.
On Good Friday, the church will gather together at the South Barrington campus for Holy Communion at two identical morning services. "I promise you will never look at the Cross of Christ the same way again!" says Hybels.
The pastor adds he has great expectations from Easter Services. "My Easter sermon preparation has been filled with so many extraordinary experiences of the power of God that I cannot wait to see what He is going to do at each of the six services on Easter weekend!"
Willow Creek is a nondenominational evangelical church, and has a weekly attendance of more than 20,000 people with seven locations. The church says it exists to "reach people far from God and help them become fully devoted followers of Christ."