Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter celebrations island style

Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is typically the most well attended Sunday service of the year for churches. 

Christians believe, according to scripture, Jesus was raised from the dead three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday before Easter. 

In Western Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday. It is a time of reflection and penance. It also represents the 40 days Jesus spent alone in the wilderness, where it is believed he survived many temptations by the devil, before starting his ministry.

The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection.

In addition to Easter’s religious significance, it has a commercial side, as evident by the mounding piles of jellybeans and yellow marshmallow chicks appearing in stores each spring. As with Christmas, over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions, including Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets and candy, has become a standard part of this holy holiday.

No matter how you choose to celebrate Easter, there are several options for islanders to choose from on Sanibel and Captiva. The following is a list of celebrations going on in the area:

o Sanibel Community Church, 1740 Periwinkle Way – An Easter egg hunt, games and a cook out will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at no charge to the public. Activities will conclude with the Stations of the Cross, pointing to the resurrection of Jesus. 

An Easter sunrise service will be held at 6:30 a.m. on the second island from Sanibel, on the west side of the causeway. Teen Challenge, a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Southwest Florida, will present songs and a drama. The teens of Sanibel Community Church will share a powerful choreography of the resurrection and the contemporary praise team will lead Easter songs. Pastor Daryl Donovan will preach the good news of life in Jesus Christ with a believer’s baptism by immersion to be offered at the conclusion of the service. 

Easter Sunday services will be held at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., at the church and include music, preaching and special times for children and families. Child care will be provided during services held on the church campus. 

Sanibel Community Church is a multi-denominational church with a vision to proclaim Christ, so all my know him. For more information, contact the church at 472-2684 or visit its website at

o Captiva Chapel By The Sea, 11580 Chapin Lane – Experience the beauty and simplicity of worship in a unique historic setting at Chapel By The Sea during Easter celebrations. 

A Maundy Thursday service will be at 5 p.m. It will offer an informal family-style guided instruction about the Last Supper and its meaning today. This service is open to all church backgrounds. 

Good Friday will be celebrated at noon in recognition that "at mid-day" Jesus was crucified by religious and political leaders for his confrontational courage. The service will give recognition of how he faced death; confident God’s love was more powerful than anything the world could do to him. 

An Easter Sunday service will be at 11 a.m.

o Chapel By The Sea welcomes all to be a part of this time of special importance for Christian faith. The church is located in Captiva’s Village area, next to the library and Civic Association. Sit outdoors, in a 100-year-old former one-bedroom schoolhouse or outdoors under the Sea Grape and Gumbo-Limbo branches while listening to the sounds of waves breaking on the beach. 

o Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, 2050 Periwinkle Way – A Holy Communion and Tenebrae will be at 7:30 p.m. Maundy Thursday; a Good Friday service featuring a special drama at noon; and Easter services will be at 7:45 a.m., 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

o Saint Isabel Catholic Church, 3559 Sanibel-Captiva Road – A Good Friday service will be at 3 p.m. with a celebration of the Lord’s Passion Veneration of the Cross; at 8 p.m. Saturday, the Great Vigil of Easter; and at 7 a.m., 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., an Easter Sunday service. 

o Adventures in Paradise presents an Easter egg and dolphin hunt from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday on Picnic Island. The charter will depart from Port Sanibel Marina and cost is $35 per person. For reservations, call 472-8443 or 437-1660. 

o The Island Inn, 3111 W. Gulf Drive – An inaugural Easter egg hunt will be at 10:30 a.m. on the grounds of the oldest inn on Sanibel. 

An exciting egg hunt on the beachfront property has been added to the Easter celebrations, as a fun activity for the children. Open to all Island Inn guests 12 years of age or younger, the egg hunt includes three golden eggs with a very special prize in each one. 

The hunt will be on the south side of the building and end once all eggs are found. 

o Lilly & Co. Jewelers – Children are invited to find several "carats" during an Easter egg hunt from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Children ages 1 to 7 will be able to hunt for 1,000 prize-filled eggs, which hold a certificate representing loose diamonds, gemstones and pearls valued at $10,000. 

There will also be a very special visitor, along with a costume contest. Refreshments will be provided by Bailey’s General Store and a piece by famed designer Marya Dabrowski will be raffled off to benefit F.I.S.H. of Sanibel. Attendees are encouraged to bring a non-perishable donation.SHANNEN HAYES

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