Considered by many Christians to be the most sacred event on the church calendar, Easter abounds with activities.
Along with special services that celebrate the holiday throughout the week, several local churches are commemorating Christ's crucifixion and resurrection with special dramatic and musical presentations.
Several others are sponsoring carnival-type events as a means of reaching out to the community. Two of them are today.
"Spring Day" at Dayspring Church will be "A Celebration of God's Creation for Families." The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and will include egg hunts, a bounce house, live music, food and a fossil hunt.
Visitors are invited to bring canned goods to benefit the church's emergency food pantry. The church is at 6000 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. Call (352) 556-8706 or visit online at www.welcometodayspring.com.
Hope Community Bible Church, 13241 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, will present a "Spring Fling Extravaganza" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today that begins with the telling of the Easter story in the church sanctuary. Starting at 10:30 there will be outside activities, including an egg hunt, a bounce house, disc jockey music, games with prizes, giveaways, hot dogs, popcorn, snow cones, lemonade and a softball game. Everything is free. Call (352) 686-6020 or go online to www.hopespringhill.org.
On Palm Sunday, the Brooksville Wesleyan Church choir, orchestra and drama team will present the musical drama For Such a One as This, beginning at 6 p.m.
The Rev. Raymond Phaup, minister of music, said the musical tries to answer questions raised by Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ.
"Through music interspersed with drama, you will come to understand the people surrounding Christ more," Phaup said. "From Pilate who asserts, 'It didn't have to end this way,' to Peter asking, 'So why did I deny him?' you will find the humanity of the ones so closely connected to Jesus."
The program ends with the choir singing the Hallelujah chorus.
"The musical stays true to the Bible story concerning the arrest, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, but enlarges on some of the details that may have happened," Phaup said.
The church is at 8168 Jasmine Drive, Brooksville. Call (352) 799-3066.
Ridge Manor United Methodist Church, 34350 Cortez Blvd., Ridge Manor, will also present a musical on Sunday. The cantata Footsteps for Jesus will begin at 6:30 p.m.
"This Easter musical is presented as a gift to the church and the community," said Pastor Debbie Nelson.
Call (352) 583-3770.
First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, 9334 Spring Hill Drive, has two special events during the coming week. First, it will present its 80-voice Chancel Choir at the 10:15 a.m. service on Sunday singing Covenant of Grace.
The Easter cantata starts with the Old Testament promises made to Abraham and David and continues through their fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
Then, there will be a Maundy Thursday tableau, Is It I, Lord? at 7 p.m. in the church sanctuary.
Jim Korp, a spokesman for the church, says the Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci will come to life with a re-enactment of Jesus and his 12 disciples together in the Upper Room.
"The tableau presents the Last Supper event as seen through the eyes of each of the disciples," Korp said.
The Rev. Richard Neal, former pastor of the church, wrote the script in which each disciple explains his thoughts in response to Jesus' statement that one of them will betray him.
"We're hoping that many families will come and share in this sacred event that portrays the true meaning of Easter," Korp said. "The live portrayal of da Vinci's classic fresco vividly declares that there is much more to Easter than the Easter bunny."
Following the tableau, those attending will have the opportunity to take communion using the elements in the portrayal. Photos may be taken at the conclusion of the service.
Call (352) 683-2600.
For the fourth year, Journey Christian Center will host a free "Easter Extravaganza" at the Stage West Community Playhouse, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 11 and includes egg hunts for children through age 10, food and soda, cotton candy, prizes, face painting, games and a live band.
Joan Poole, a spokeswoman for the event, said donated bikes will be awarded through a raffle.
"Each person gets a free ticket upon coming in, and those tickets are used for the raffle," Poole said. "Last year we had over 1,000 attend. We are planning for 1,500 this year."
Call (352) 597-7792 or visit online at www.journeychristian center.com.
Grace Presbyterian Church, 8375 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, will host Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and an egg hunt beginning with a free pancake breakfast at 9 a.m. April 11. Children ages 1 to 10 are welcome to participate in the hunt and enjoy the food with their parents. Those attending may bring a camera for pictures. Call (352) 683-2082 or go online to www.gracechurchsh.org.
Christ Lutheran Church, 475 North Ave. W, Brooksville, will have its annual Easter breakfast and egg hunt beginning at 9:30 a.m. April 12. There will be three age groups: 4 and under, 5 to 8, and 9 to 12. Call (352) 796-8331.
An egg hunt will begin at 9:30 a.m. April 12 at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 2301 Deltona Blvd., Spring Hill. Call (352) 683-2010.
Damascus Mission Faith Outreach, 4477 Treiman Blvd., Ridge Manor, will host a free Spring Festival beginning at 11 a.m. April 12. The all-day event will include an egg hunt and other children's activities, along with a complete pork roast dinner. The homeless are welcome, and food will be taken to the homebound. Clothes also will be given away. Any food donations are welcome, but not necessary. Call (352) 279-6656 or (352) 585-2588.
Word of Life, 13247 Word of Life Drive, Hudson, is presenting Jesus: Behold the Man through April 11 at the Harry Bollback Performing Arts Center. Tickets range from $5 to $24 for the musical drama, now in its fourth season.
"This year, when our world seems to be turned upside down, people are looking for answers and the real meaning of what life is all about," said Mike Laymon, director of the program. "Our play takes a deeper look at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and his message of good news that he brought to this earth and offered to every one of us."
This production also offers a live portrayal of da Vinci's Last Supper.
The 150-member cast for the Broadway-style performance is composed of students from the Word of Life Institute, staff members and children of staff members.
Call toll-free at 1-877-412-8687 or visit online at www.wol.org.