And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name…
(From St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, a very early Christian hymn, often called ‘the Christ hymn’.)
Now it begins again, with Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord, and beyond waits the rest of Holy Week, as we walk with Jesus through his final days, join him at the Last Supper, have him wash our feet, follow, perhaps at a distance, to the trial, see him humiliated, stripped naked and nailed to the tree, then, finally, taken down and laid in a dark tomb of stone. Then we wait… After sunset on Saturday, the beginning of the new day for Jews (And you will remember, no doubt, that Jesus and all his first disciples were Jews…), we come together in the darkness, especially that darkness within, afraid to hope, and yet, somehow, daring to look for light shining in the darkness.
We will not be disappointed. But, that’s next week, the first day of the first week of the Easter Season, the Eighth Day of Creation. First, the pilgrimage which began for us on Ash Wednesday must be completed. Why miss out, sisters and brothers? Come and join us for these highest Holy Days in our life of faith together as disciples of the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ.
The Great Three Days (Triduum): Three liturgies, one service of worship
Maundy Thursday: The word “Maundy” is an English form of the Latin word for commandment, mandatum. The over-arching theme of the day is Jesus’ new commandment to “love one another even as I have loved you,” a love sharply focused by the contrast of the betrayal which followed the meal that night before he died. Jesus’ great love is demonstrated both in his example of the footwashing (service) and in his gift of himself in the first Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist (thanksgiving). This is part one, or Act One, of the greatest worship drama in the life of the church, the three days (triduum), which begins Thursday evening and comes to dramatic conclusion at the Easter Vigil, THE Celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord. The Liturgy continues on Friday morning, so there is no blessing or benediction to conclude the worship.
Thursday, April 17th, 7 p.m.
Good Friday: Seen as part of the larger mystery of salvation, it is appropriate for Good Friday to be an austere time of reflection and intercession, as well as of the adoration of Christ the crucified, the sacrificial Lamb of God. This note of austerity does not, however, preclude the note of triumph which the final hymn tomorrow will indicate: The King is enthroned upon his holy cross, glorified, and we are awestruck at the redemption of the whole world. We gather on Good Friday to celebrate the depths and riches and wonder of God’s love, not to hold a funeral service for a long-dead Jesus. This is Act Two and the Liturgy concludes Saturday night.
Friday, April 18th, 10:30 a.m.
The Great Vigil of Easter: The climax of the sacred three days (Triduum in Latin) that began on Maundy Thursday is reached in this service which abounds in archetypal imagery that evokes responses from deep within the human psyche: darkness and light, death and life, chaos and order, slavery and freedom. In this service the fullness of salvation finds expression in creation and redemption, old covenant and new covenant, Baptism and Eucharist. This most holy night is the solemn memorial and the joyous celebration of the central mystery of salvation in Christ’s saving death and mighty rising, made real for all of us in the waters of baptism. Act Three.
Saturday, April 19th, service at 8 p.m.
(Much of the material above is taken, with gratitude, from Manual on the Liturgy: Lutheran Book of Worship, Augsburg, 1979)
The Resurrection of Our Lord, Easter Sunday: We will gather for a festive Sung Eucharist on , at 10:30 a.m. First, though, today/Sunday, April 13th, we welcome him into Jerusalem. For there it begins and ends, and there the New Jerusalem is born, even as we die with him, and are raised with him to new life.
Sunday, April 20th, Sung Eucharist at 10:30 a.m. Bishop Presides, Dean Preaches.
“It is ourselves that we must spread under Christ’s feet, not coats or lifeless branches or shoots of trees… But we have clothed ourselves with Christ’s grace, with the whole Christ – ‘for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ’ – so let us spread ourselves like coats under his feet.”
(Andrew of Crete, 8th century)
Thanks be to God!