Celebrations and Challenges For Christians

What to Know About the Origins and Meanings of the Major Holy Week Rituals
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But be brave I have defeated the world " John "If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, take up his cross every day, and follow me. Part II considers how Christians can use the challenges inherent in topics such as "Accessing God's Power," "Witnessing for Christ," "Coping with Change," and "Growing in Adversity as opportunities for growth and service.


Most often both kinds of services leave participants at best uninspired and at worst with a deeper sense of alienation from one another and doubtful that meaningful interfaith celebration is possible. We suggest that there are, emerging on campuses across the country, new models for multi-faith celebration that weave together authentic elements from different religious traditions and spiritual practices in a ritual that celebrates diversity while creating community.

Wellesley College has, for more than a decade, been experimenting with a process for creating multi-faith celebrations with interesting results.

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In creating these ceremonies, examples of which are included in this section, we have found the following steps to be important. The first step in planning a multi-faith celebration is to define the purpose of the gathering.


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Historically, community celebrations on college and university campuses marked a particular moment in the academic year. What we have found is that once we have defined the purpose of the event, then we can move to the next step of creating a community celebration.

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This requires creativity and a willingness to deal with potential conflict as longstanding traditions which may be beloved by some while alienating others are set aside so that something new can be born. Step 3.

One of the goals of multi-faith community celebration at Wellesley College is equity of voice. We believe that, in order to achieve our goal of a celebration that engages the whole community, we must create an experience where all religious and spiritual voices are visible or audible and where no one voice dominates. Doing this tends to be a problem for many Protestant Christians who are accustomed to having such rituals reflect their structure of a Protestant Service while perhaps including elements from other traditions.

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When the community celebration no longer follows this Protestant liturgical form, our experience is that some Protestants react negatively to what they correctly experience as a change that has dislodged them from the center of the ritual. Over the years, I have come to understand this as dealing with the grief of the dislodged majority.

Spending time acknowledging this change and helping the majority community to deal with the grief of loosing their position of power is crucial to the ability to truly create a new experience for the campus community. It is also important to note that getting unanimous agreement on such a change before the change happens is not what we are proposing.

If our experience is any indication of broader patterns, there will be plenty of grumbling about such changes before people accept new patterns of celebration. Ten years ago, when we first changed our Baccalaureate celebration to a multi-faith service, there was a great deal of conflict from students, faculty and trustees over beginning the service with African drumming and dance.

Step 4. Too often well-intentioned groups of people come together and plan a multi-faith service only to be met with criticism because the planning team and the service it created was predominantly Christian.

Easter celebrations: Christians around the world commemorate Christ's death and resurrection

We have found that one of the key elements to creating a multi-faith celebration is to have a multi-faith planning team. We use the United States Senate model of representation rather than the House of Representatives model in our work, meaning that each religious community is represented, not proportionately by numbers, but equally i. One of my favorite sayings to the Christian community ies is that just because they have historically had trouble getting along and have split up into denominations does not mean that they get more representation than other groups.