No other week in the Church Year has so strong an aura of special devotion inherent in it than Holy Week.
The eight days from Palm/Passion Sunday to Easter Sunday immerse us in the central mystery of God’s Work of Salvation through the Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Holy Week faces both back to the very beginning of Lent and forward to the 50-day celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. Holy Week has two distinct parts:
Palm/Passion Sunday; Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week; and the daylight hours of Holy Thursday complete our time of preparation.
The evening of Maundy Thursday begins the Three Holy Days, or Holy Triduum, which is completed in the evening of Easter Day. The worship services of these days form a continuous celebration of Christ’s Death and Resurrection.
At the very center of the Church Year stand the Three Holy Days, or Holy Triduum.
Maundy Thursday receives its unusual title from the Latin “mandatum” (command).
The overarching theme of the day is our Lord’s New Command:
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
Maundy Thursday is not a festival on which Communion is celebrated as an abstract idea.
Maundy Thursday opens the celebration of the Lord’s Passover, in which Our Lord provides to His own, to us, the significance of both the foot washing and the institution of the Lord’s Supper.
God’s people turn to Him with thanksgiving for His Gracious Presence during our 40 day journey through Lent.
We confess that we remain debtors to Him even after our observance of Lent.
Together we receive forgiveness and then express the reconciliation we have with one another, made possible by God’s forgiveness in Christ.
Good Friday is observed with worship services in the afternoon during the hours Christ hung on the cross and uttered His Seven Last Words from the cross; and in the evening with a Tenebrae (shadows) Worship Service which is a time of prayer and reflection on the cross as the means of our salvation.
Good Friday is not a funeral service. Rather, it is a celebration of the King Who triumphs over death and reigns from the cross. On the day when Christ died for the salvation of the entire world, we fittingly include prayers for all people everywhere.
The daylight hours of Holy Saturday are devoted to the entombment of our Lord.
“The church sits by the tomb and meditates on the Jesus Christ Who, through His Death, enables those who have died with Him in Holy Baptism to live with Him in the Power of the Holy Spirit.
His Death is the end of our bondage to sin. Christ, Who will judge both the living and the dead, is destined to rise from the tomb!”
The whole Church Year depends on Easter and all time is shaped by it.
On Easter, “Alleluia!” rings again throughout Christendom.
Alleluia comes naturally and easily from our tongues as we praise our God Who brings salvation to His people.
Jesus Christ is the true Passover Lamb Who gave Himself to take away our sin; Who by His Death has destroyed death, and by His Rising has brought us to Eternal Life.
As we make our journey through Lent and celebrate the Holy Eucharist in the Sacrament of the Altar, we are reminded that every Sunday is a “Little Easter” – a celebration of the victory Christ has won for us over sin, death and the power of the devil.
Through faith, we believe His Promise to come again and take us to Eternal Life in Heaven.
Until our sure hope is fulfilled, we have the great privilege and opportunity to Worship our Great God.
Everything we do in response to God’s love for us in Christ is an act of Worship.
When we participate in Worship services, we experience a little bit of Heaven here on earth. And during the celebration of Holy Communion we experience, in a very personal way, the Real Presence of Christ – the Word Made Flesh - God With Us - Immanuel.
With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are commissioned as ministers of Christ for the ministry of personal evangelism, mission, and service in our vocations in society.
Until that day when we join the whole church triumphant in the glory of Heaven, the Spirit gives us a glimpse of that joy in our Worship here on earth.
You have given us the words, Lord…
And the music…
A song of life that’s new and unrehearsed;
You have given us the joy that makes our hearts sing,
Even though at times the tears come first…
You have taken all our yesterdays of discord –
A clash of cymbals, meaningless and vain –
Transposing all the noise into a love song
That floods our very souls with its refrain…
You have taken all the gifts we once thought our own, Lord,
And changed the composition of their worth,
Reclaiming what was Yours from the beginning,
Returning them, transfigured by rebirth…
You have given us the theme for our existence,
And we will sing Your glory all our days…
For now, Lord, and forever…
Be our Music
And make our lives a symphony of praise.
- B.J. Hoff
Director of Worship and Music Ministry