I can’t tell you when I finally figured out what all the days of Holy Week were. I can tell you that as a kid I had no concept of what Maundy Thursday was, or why it might be important. Isn’t Good Friday the day when all the stores sell their stuff at crazy discounts? Is it Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday? Don’t even get me started on Easter Vigil – my first experience with that was under Pastor Carrie.
It’s Holy Week and unless you are a life-long church goer, a liturgical “nerd” or a pastor (I probably fit in all three categories), you might not really know what all these extra services are about– or why they are important in your spiritual journey.
Palm/Passion Sunday (last Sunday 4/2) – In years past, this used to only be Palm Sunday, but now churches often add the Passion story as well, so that if you can’t make it to Good Friday, you still hear the story of Jesus death on the cross. You can’t have resurrection without death first. So we begin with Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, greeted with Palm branches along the way, and end with Jesus dying on the cross.
Maundy Thursday (Thur 7pm) - This service is all about Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples: love one another, be a servant to each other, and the institution of the Lord’s Supper. We invite our First Communion students each year to take their First Communion, and we wash their feet as a symbol of serving one another. We end the service with the stripping of the altar – a symbol of the desolation to come on Good Friday.
Good Friday (Fri 7pm) – As a pastor, I think this is the most important service of the year – the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. There is no more Holy Day than this one. It’s the day that we acknowledge the depth of God’s love and the cost of our sin. If you came to just one Holy Week service, I would tell you to come to this one, even over Easter.
Easter Sunday (Sun 9a, 10:30a) – Easter Sunday is a day of triumph! It’s a day that we honor the resurrection of Jesus, as the stone is rolled aside to reveal an empty tomb. It’s rightfully a day of celebration with trumpets and joyful songs, colorful outfits and vibrant flowers. We celebrate because this is the day that God’s love triumphed over death itself, for all time.
I hope you can join us this Holy Week and fill your soul with the love and fullness of Christ.