As we enter into Holy Week this week, I am reminded again that what we do is counter-cultural. This week we will journey with Jesus’ disciples to the upper room, remembering the very first time our Lord shared the bread and the wine with his disciples, saying “this is my body, this is my blood, do this in remembrance of me.” We call that night of worship “Maundy Thursday,” because it was then that Jesus gave his disciples the mandate to “love one another.” On Maundy Thursday we gather together, share communion, and in some years, wash one another’s’ hands or feet in memory of the acts Jesus shared with his first disciples.
On “Good Friday” we will gather at Calvin Presbyterian for a service focused on the seven last words/phrases of Jesus as he died for us on the cross. This is a “Tenebrae” service, and is solemn in tone as we recall the many ways we as individuals and as a community have sinned against God by our actions and our inactions. And yet we call this day “good” Friday, a reminder of the good and holy act that Jesus did for us by freely dying for our sins on the cross.
But these two worship services are not complete in themselves. Together with Easter Sunday they comprise the “Triduum” or the three days. A benediction is not offered at the end of the services until all three are completed, a reminder to us that Maundy Thursday and Good Friday only have meaning to us in light of the resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate on Easter Sunday.
This year we will also celebrate a Palm and Passion Sunday on March 29th. We will hear the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and also the biblical account of Jesus’ passion. This is a foretaste of the other services of holy week, and a reminder that we do not arrive at Easter Sunday without first passing through the crucifixion of Jesus. Together we will offer our heartfelt thanksgiving for what Jesus has done on our behalf.
What we do is counter-cultural. In the midst of a spring-like week, we will be contemplating last words and sacrifice. In the midst of the blossoming daffodils, we will identify with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is easy to jump ahead to the glorious resurrection, but I would encourage you not to do so. Be counter-cultural. Remember what Jesus did on our behalf, and give thanks. In the midst of the ordinariness of this week early in spring, take time to realize that we walk through holy ground as we prepare for Easter. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning has written:
“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God; and only he who sees takes off his shoes; the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”
with prayers for a blessed Easter,