Tuesday in Holy Week
April 3, 2012
This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, marked the beginning of Holy Week. This is the week Christians around the world commemorate the final week of the earthly ministry of Jesus, the week when he completed his task of earning our salvation. Christians will recognize this week with many special worship services. Some congregations will have services every day of the week. At Lamb of God we will have special services on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Thursday is knows as either Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatus, which means “command.” It comes from the words spoken by our Lord in the upper room, “A new command I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34). It was on this night that Jesus celebrated his last Passover with his disciples. During that Passover celebration Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, Maundy Thursday services have historically been Communion Services.
We will celebrate the Eucharist at Lamb of God this Maundy Thursday. “The Eucharist” is another name for Communion. Eucharist is a Greek word, and means “thanks” or “thanksgiving.” It comes from the words recorded in the Gospel accounts of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:19). In them we read that Jesus gave thanks over the bread and cup as he instituted the Sacrament. The name “Communion” comes from 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. The Greek word is variously translated as “communion,” “sharing,” and “participation.” Paul seeks to explain the mysterious and miraculous union of the body and blood of Jesus with the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper.
Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are together called the “Great Triduum.” “Triduum” is Latin and means “Three Days.” Most precisely, the Great Triduum begins with the Communion service on Maundy Thursday and ends with the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. In the early centuries of the Church, the services on these days were not thought of as separate, but as one. In fact, during the days of Saint Augustine, there was no break between them. Christians would come and join in worship. If they needed to leave to get some sleep or a bite to eat, they would. When they returned, the service was still going on. With this practice they recognized that the events that transpired from the upper room to the resurrection are not to be separated, but are one great action by God. We recognize this thought by not incorporating our traditional blessing at the end of any of the worship services, beginning with Maundy Thursday, until we celebrate Easter. The benediction at the end of the Easter service concludes the worship that began on Maundy Thursday.
At Lamb of God, we will have two worship services on Maundy Thursday. As mentioned above, both will be Communion services. The first service will start at 12:15 PM and the second will start at 7:00. The liturgy, in each case, will be specially designed for Maundy Thursday. While the liturgy in each service will be different, the scripture lessons and sermon will be the same. The appointed lessons are: Exodus 24:3-11, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, and Mark 14:12-26. The text for the sermon is Exodus 24:11. The sermon is titled, “An Heavenly Banquet.”
In the 12:15 service, the liturgy will be spoken. The only singing we will do, will be the sermon hymn, “Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” (LSB 637). The service will conclude with reading responsively Psalm 22. This Psalm can be used either on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. Jesus quotes from it while on the cross.
There will be more singing in the 7:00 service. Those portions of the liturgy that are normally sung, however, will be replaced with well known hymn verses. So our Offertory will be the hymn “Create in Me” (LSB 956). The Agnus Dei will be replaced with the first verse of “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy” (LSB 434). The Sanctus will be replaced with the first verse of “Holy, Holy, Holy” (LSB 507). And our Post-Communion Canticle will be “O Jesus, Blessed Lord, to Thee” (LSB 632), one of the many hymns set to the tune of “Old Hundredth.” Aside from these hymns that are being used as part of the liturgy, our opening hymn will be “What Wondrous Love is This” (LSB 543), our sermon hymn will be “Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” (LSB 637), and our distribution hymn will be “I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table” (LSB 618). There is no closing hymn, as is traditional. Instead, the altar area will be “stripped.” This ceremonially removing of the communion vessels, paraments, and other appointments, reminds us of the abuse and humiliation our Lord endure at the hand so his persecutors. The choir will be singing “This My Body, This My Blood.”
Below is a video of the Lutheran Warbler playing and singing "Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord" which is the sermon hymn in both services.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert