The death and resurrection of the Christ has been celebrated for nearly 2,000 years but one group of Christians -- about 10,000 of them who worship in Loma Linda -- do not observe Easter Sunday.
"Worshipping on Sunday really comes from sun worship," said Darold Retzer, executive pastor of
The church has a congregation of 6,000, according to Retzer.
The idea of worshipping on a Sunday has pagan connotations for Adventists and as Retzer said, in the Old Testament of the Bible, the Sabbath is meant to fall on a Saturday.
Other Christians set aside an entire week of veneration -- from Palm Sunday -- when according to biblical scripture, Jesus triumphantly rode into Jerusalem and people laid palms in the street for Him -- through Good Friday, Holy Saturday and finally Easter Sunday.
However, Seventh-day Adventists do not observe what Christians worldwide refer to as Holy Week.
"We focus on the Resurrection but we do refer to it as Easter; Our worships are on Saturday.
"We recognize that Palm Sunday represents Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem," said Retzer, but because of Sunday's pagan roots, it is not a holy day for Adventists.
In celebration of Easter -- and Adventists use the word because it has been accepted through the centuries -- the Adventists' usual Saturday night worship service is split into two days.
“There are only two days named for Easter in the Bible," Retzer said.
On Friday, the congregation will do what Roman Catholics do on what they call Holy Thursday -- priests wash the feet of congregants.
"The way we celebrate Communion is that we have an actual foot washing," Retzer said.
The congregants will wash each other's feet, as there are no priests in the Seventh-day Adventist religion.
"We don't have an altar ... we don't even have a pulpit," Retzer said.
The pastor stands on a platform, with nothing between him and his congregation, Retzer said.
Instead of just one day of Sabbath observance, said Retzer, "because of Easter we break them up."
On Friday night, "we have a service of contemplation, in which we commemorate the crucifixion, focusing on the crucifixion and sacrifice of Our Lord."
Following the foot washing, there will be a homily, a kind of sermon.
On what is Easter for Seventh-day Adventists, the congregants Saturday will share Communion -- they call it "Emblems" because of the food's symbolism -- as part of the Lord's Supper.
The Lord's Supper is usually unleavened wheat bread -- more of a cracker than the thin wafers used by Roman Catholics -- and grape juice rather than the grape wine used by Roman Catholics.
"At Easter we make somethng special of it and we have a 3-by-3 wafer of bread and a (small) bottle of grape juice," Retzer said.
Congregants are handed silver gift bags, with a napkin.
"People get a bag at the beginning and then as the pastor begins his homily, he has people open their bags and eat their bread and drink their grape juice."
An important distinction between Seventh-day Adventists and Roman Catholics is that Catholics believe in transubstantiation; tbey believe that in a miracle, bread is transformed into the body of Christ and wine into the blood of the Christ.
The word "Christ" comes from the Greek "Christos" which translates into "Messiah."
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, following the foot washing ceremony, Pastor Randy Roberts will deliver a homily on "The Feet of Our Souls."
On Saturday evening, again because it is Easter and after the Resurrection celebration, the Loma Linda University congregation will listen to a choir's rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus, from Handel's Messiah.
The Seventh-day Adventists, said Retzer, are "basically mainstream evangelical protestant Christians, who do not cling to ritual and tradition, as do some other Christian faiths.
"We take the Bible ... as it reads," he said.