Our congregation spends weeks preparing for Easter. We officially begin our preparations on Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.

Lent is a 40-day season of fasting and prayer. This year, Campbell Chapel held 6 a.m. prayer services each day of Lent. Each service was just 10 minutes long. Scriptures were read and various families of the congregation took turns leading us in prayer. Most of the prayers were self-improvement prayers.

Also during Lent, most members of my denomination abstain from certain food items or certain habits. We are a people of moderation and balance. The things we give up for Lent are usually a reflection of being out of balance.

It is common to hear that people have given up food items like red meat, diet sodas and fast food. In recent years, fasting from technology has become popular. Some will abstain from that particular food item or habit for the entire 40 days of Lent. Others will abstain only on the Fridays of Lent.

The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday. We have a special team that prepares our worship center for Palm Sunday. The entire complex is arrayed with palm branches and crosses.

While the physical preparation is important, Palm Sunday is a major day of spiritual preparation. It is a day of mixed emotions. While the choir leads us in singing the triumphant anthems of the Church, we also realize that the beautiful palm branches that inundate our sanctuary will be kept for a year.

They will be burned and imposed upon our foreheads at the next year’s Ash Wednesday Service. During that service, those joyous palms will be used to validate our hypocrisy.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Many congregations in our denomination hold daily services throughout Holy Week. Others hold services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

On Maundy Thursday, worship focuses on Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. At that meal, Jesus inaugurated Holy Communion. As worshippers realize that they are nearing the end of their Easter preparation, Maundy Thursday shifts the focus from our preparation for Easter to Jesus’ preparation for the cross.

On Good Friday, our denomination comes together for a Seven Last Words of the Cross Virtual Worship Service. Seven short sermons (homilies) are preached by seven different pastors, each one based on one of the seven statements Jesus made while dying on the cross.

All of these events are in preparation for Easter. Campbell Chapel celebrated Easter with an outdoor Sunrise Service at 6 a.m. That service was followed by a children’s program and our 10 a.m. service.

Why do we go through this season of preparation for just one day of celebration? For us, our annual Easter celebration points to the most important day of human history. For Christians, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our faith.

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection purchased our salvation. Our preparations are a sign of our gratitude. This gratitude should not only be expressed during Lent, but also every day of the year.

The Rev. Dr. Jon R. Black is senior pastor at Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church in Bluffton.