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This weekend, I went to church four times. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Even some of my Christian friends thought this was a little excessive. My non-Christian friends were utterly baffled. "Don't you get bored?" they asked. I tried to explain. Last week was Holy Week, the seven days up to and including Easter, with services for every one of the days I mentioned. Maundy Thursday, the commemoration of Jesus' celebration of Passover with his 12 disciples. Good Friday, the remembrance of when Jesus was put to death. Holy Saturday, also known as Easter Eve. And, of course, Easter, the celebration of Jesus' resurrection. "Holy Week is my favorite week of the Church year," I told them. Of course, that still didn't answer their biggest question, and, eventually, my biggest question as well. Why? Were my non-Christian friends right? Did Christianity have little relevance outside of its meaning as a personal tradition? Whatever my reason for attaching such great importance to attending all four services, it wasn't merely for the sake of tradition. My family has dozens of Easter traditions, from eating hot cross buns to coloring eggs, none of which I tried to follow this year at college. I ate pizza from Hewitt for my Easter dinner and watched the CMTS production of "Fiddler on the Roof"—a nontraditional Easter if ever there was one. After some thought, I came to a better answer—I go to every service because it's important to me that I symbolically "walk through" the Easter story, from Judas' betrayal of Jesus to the women's finding His tomb empty. But that still left another question. Why did I feel such a pressing need to relive this story? Surely I could just spend Holy Week philosophizing, ordering my mind to make my life principles and creeds even clearer. I had plenty of good ideas about God. Was church really necessary? I tried this method, I really did. And for a while, I actually thought this approach would work. But by Wednesday, my brain was protesting. All my ideas on love and friendship weren't actually helping me be a better friend, and my ideas on enjoying life didn't keep me from cursing when I woke up at eight for my miserably early French class. I was just another Columbia student, adding my own puny thoughts to the great cacophony of ideas that echoed around the campus on a daily basis. And then I went to church on Thursday. The pastor read a story from the Bible about Jesus washing his disciples' feet before they ate their Passover meal. Even though he was their teacher and leader, the pastor said, Jesus wanted to serve them in some way, to show His love for them. The pastor announced that we, the church members, were going to wash each other's feet. We gathered at the front of the sanctuary, where I bent down in front of a man I had never met before and began to wash his feet. Oddly, I wasn't as disgusted as I thought I would be. I looked at the people around me, none of whom seemed repulsed, or even reluctant. What was going on? What could make people put aside their natural aversions and wash the feet of a total stranger? None of my own ideas would have brought me to this place. It was the Person, Jesus, that we were commemorating, who did strange and loving things like washing His friends' feet and going to death even though He was innocent. And it was this Person, not a philosophy, who inspired others to do strange and loving things, even 2000 years later. The whole process of Holy Week, the innumerable church services, was important to me because it reminded me of this fact. As I walked through the week, I realized that Christianity was not based on a system with maxims, but a Person with a story, a story full of drama and humor and uncalled-for love. And this story could be a guide to me and to others, calling us out of our petty existences to love the world, not with our thoughts but with our actions. Four days of church? Four days wasn't nearly enough to hear this story and to remember on whose shoulders I am standing. Ultimately, those who believe that Christianity is primarily a set of harsh and arbitrary rules are mistaken. Its primary foundation is this Person's story and the desire of His followers to respond to the world in the same way that He did. As Columbians, we're fond of critiquing, rejecting and accepting all types of philosophies, a pursuit that I believe can ultimately help us. But Christianity deserves to be examined in the proper light before it is accepted or rejected. The author is a Barnard College first-year. She is a member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and is on the content committee of the Veritas Forum.

Jesus Christ Holy Week Easter