by The Rev. Daniel P Strandlund | March 22, 2018Hi friends, we start Holy Week this Sunday. Here are some reminders about our services.
Sunday, March 25th, 10:30am—Palm Sunday. We’ll begin with the procession of the palms as we celebrate and commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. A “triumphal entry” was common for military commanders to make after a successful campaign. The general would ride in on a big horse or chariot with much fanfare, perhaps throwing coins to the crowds on the way. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt, and those who welcomed him did so with palm branches and spreading their coats on the ground. They cried, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” They were blessing Jesus and the coming ancestor of King David. Every Sunday during the Eucharist, when we sing the Sanctus (the ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’), we sing “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” When we sing that, one of the things we are doing is performing the reality that Jesus is entering into our midst, just as he entered into Jerusalem. On Palm Sunday, we will celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem but also hear the whole story of his trial and crucifixion, which we call the Passion Narrative. “Passion” in this sense means “suffering.”
Thursday, March 29th, 7pm—Maundy Thursday. A lot happens on Maundy Thursday. This is the night Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, what we call the Eucharist. It’s also the night when he washed his disciples’ feet. It’s also the night when Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed to God, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet not what I want, but what you want.” At our service, we will wash each other’s feet; we will celebrate the Eucharist; and we will strip the altar and leave in silence as signs of Jesus’ vigil of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. This silence also prepares us for Jesus’ death on Good Friday. This is one of the most intimate nights of the church year.
Friday, March 30th, 7pm—Good Friday. Good Friday is the most solemn day of the Church. This is the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s one of the primary fasting days of the church year (along with Ash Wednesday). The service begins as Maundy Thursday ended: in silence. The altar is bare, and the service is marked by silence and prayer. We will hear the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, and we will pray the Solemn Collects (Book of Common Prayer, 277-280), which is a collection of prayers for the day. They’re a bit like the biggest, most powerful Prayers of the People of the Church year. We do not celebrate communion on Good Friday. Instead, a wooden cross is brought before the altar. Each of us will have an opportunity to strike the cross with a hammer, if so moved. (Nobody must do this.) This reminds us that it is not God who killed Jesus, but us. Finally, this service will end as it began: in silence. Just as during the Eucharist on a regular Sunday we observe a moment of silence when the bread is lifted up and broken, so too on Good Friday do we observe silence when Jesus’ body is lifted up on the cross and broken.
Sunday, April 1st, 10:30am—Easter! The tomb will be empty; wear your fanciest clothes if you like; bring flowers; celebrate; rejoice; sing; dance; shout that “A” word at the top of your lungs! We’ll also baptize a new baby!
I hope you’ll participate fully in our Holy Week services, and if you’re out of town, I hope you’ll find a church and attend their services.
Holy Week is also a good week to take on additional devotions of some kind. If you’re not sure what to do, I recommend turning to page 957 in the Book of Common Prayer. On the bottom half of that page, you’ll see a collection of bible readings for each day of Holy Week. This is part of the Daily Office lectionary for this year. One idea is to begin and end each day with some of the readings listed. For example, notice the readings listed on that page for Monday of Holy Week. In the morning you could read Psalm 51; Lamentations 1:1-2, 6-12; and 2 Corinthians 1:1-7. In the evening, before bed, you could read Psalm 69:1-23 and Mark 11:12-25. Then do the same for readings on the subsequent days, all the way up until Easter.
And then maybe on Easter morning, have ice cream for breakfast. Or put M&Ms on your waffles or something.
Fast well, feast well.