Easter in Oxford: Observing the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus

Published 11:58 am Friday, April 15, 2022

Holy Week is coming to an end and Easter is just around the corner. Local churches and Christian organizations are observing this time with various Holy Week services as well as Easter egg hunts and Easter-morning services.

Oxonians will find an abundance of Easter egg hunts occurring around the city this weekend for children to enjoy.

The Oxford Park Commission is one of many groups planning to hold an Easter Egg Hunt at mTrade Park on Saturday at 9 a.m. OPC will be stationed at the field closest to the concession stand to provide support. 

Children ages 1 to 8 years old are invited to participate, and Community Church Oxford members will serve as volunteers for the event. OPC will have four fields set up for four different age groups. 

Immediately after the hunt will be a Touch-A-Truck event featuring garbage trucks, fire trucks, emergency vehicles and rigs. Kids will be able to see, touch and explore their favorite trucks from departments around the city and county. The trucks will be parked in the lot surrounding the Oxford Orthopedic Indoor Practice Facility.

The public can join St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church later on Saturday at 8 p.m. for Easter Vigil. The Saturday night vigil celebrates Jesus’s return to the land of the living after his death and burial.

“We light a fire to show that a light is returning into the world,” said St. John’s priest Joe Tonos. “An Easter candle is blessed, we bring men and women through baptism and sacraments into the church. Mass is celebrated and the church is alive again. Jesus is alive again.”

To Tonos, the world’s access to God and Jesus stems from his death on the cross. 

“We’re really looking at the origins of our access to Christ in Heaven and how Jesus’ suffering opened that door for us,” he said. “As a priest, you have to feel gratitude that all of us are given that opportunity through God’s grace.”

Oxford University United Methodist Church co-pastor Chris McAlilly echoes Tonos’ sentiments on Easter. Jesus’ love for humanity becomes a model for Christians to follow.

“Easter is the bedrock of our hope,” said McAlilly. “The surprise that love is stronger than death. Easter empowers us to live as agents of hope.”

OUUMC will deliver that message to parishioners at its Easter Sunday Service in the Oxford High School gymnasium at 10 a.m. There will not be a Traditional Worship services at the church.  Visit www.ouumc.org for more information.

The love McAlilly mentions is the central theme in the Christian story surrounding this holiday. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ tells of the ultimate act of love.

Pastor Fish Robinson of Community Church Oxford is making that same kind of love the central focus of this year’s Easter service.

“Every year we come up with a theme for Easter,” said Robinson. “The resurrection of Christ— his death, burial and resurrection— never gets old. It really doesn’t need to be freshened up, but we come up with a theme every year because we want the unchurched to feel welcomed and invited.”

According to him, sharing the Word of God in an inclusive environment is the key to bringing people into the church. 

“Our mindset, with our name being Community Church, is that we feel like God has called up to run after the community,” he said. “We just feel like that’s a way we can do that.”

CCO’s Hispanic congregation will hold a Sunrise Service at 6:30 a.m. at CCO’s office located at 68 Highway 334. The service is open to both Spanish-speakers and English-speakers.

Later, CCO will hold Easter service at Lafayette County High School’s football field at 10 a.m. barring inclement weather. Robinson said if the weather does turn sour, the service will be held in the school’s gymnasium.

Community Church Oxford will hold an Easter Egg Hunt following its 10 a.m. service at the Lafayette County High School campus. CCO has gathered approximately 5,000 eggs for children up to 5th grade to find. Groups will be divided by age and sent to find their eggs among Lafayette County schools’ sports fields.