Wednesday in Holy Week
March 27, 2013
The Lord be with you
Holy Week commemorates the last week in our Lord’s life and, as such, is the apex of the Christian Calendar, the apex of the life of our Lord, and the apex of the Christian Faith. At Lamb of God, we commemorate the week with multiple special services, like churches around the world. The options are so rich and diverse that a church would have to hold services almost constantly, beginning on Palm Sunday and running through the Wednesday following Easter Sunday, to even hope to do justice to them all. Such a project would require multiple pastors, obviously. In our day, it is most common to commemorate Palm Sunday (Sunday of the Passion), Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Many have begun to observe Holy Saturday as well. These are the days marked with special services at Lamb of God.
Any detailed advance information concerning the services would make this post too long, so this post will provide only brief information about them. Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion was, of course, last Sunday, so I’ll skip it here.
Maundy Thursday, March 28, marks the day Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, taught a great deal at the same time, washed the feet of his disciples, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, was betrayed by Judas and arrested. Services accenting any of these events are appropriate. As is common in our tradition, we will be accenting the institution of the Lord’s Supper with a Communion service. We will have one at 12:15 pm and another at 7:00 pm. The “noon” service has a spoken liturgy and only one hymn will be sung (“Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” LSB 637). The scripture lessons for the day are Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 10:15-25 and Luke 22:7-20. The message is titled “Passover, Part Two.” The noon service ends with the reading of Psalm 22 and the evening service ends with the stripping of the altar, both traditional Maundy Thursday practices.
Good Friday, March 29, marks the day Jesus’ disciples abandoned him, he endured his mock trials, his conviction, crucifixion, death and burial. We mark this day two ways. While Jesus was on the cross the sky grew dark from noon until three, when Jesus died. During those same hours our sanctuary is open for prayer and meditation. Another way believers in the early centuries marked the death of Jesus was by praying the Lord’s Prayer at 3:00, the hour of his death. Our time together in our Prayer Vigil will end in this fashion. Our second service is at 7:00 pm. This is a Tenebrae service, or Service of Darkness. As our candles are slowly extinguished the waning light reminds us of the growing isolation of our Lord. Each of our Lord’s final words from the cross forms the basis of a short meditation, which services as the message for the evening. This is a rather dramatic service.
Holy Saturday, March 30, commemorates our Lord’s time in the grave, thus sanctifying our own graves. We commemorate the day with two services, the first at noon. This is a “Stations of the Cross” service and is the second year we have offered it. Beginning at noon we travel the stations that are posted in our yard. These stations cover the final hours of the life of Jesus, beginning with his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and ending with his burial. The second service on Holy Saturday uses the first century Jewish method of calculating the beginning of a day, which was at sunset. In other words, Easter begins at sunset, Saturday. Therefore the “Great Easter Vigil” is considered the first service of Easter. This is a joint service between Abiding Savior (Anderson), Good Shepherd (Greenville) and Lamb of God. As Good Shepherd is the church in the middle, it serves as host of the service. (There address is 1601 North Pleasantburg, Greenville.) The service begins at 8:00 pm. The service traces many of the typological and prophetic passages in the Old Testament that pointed to Jesus, ending with the Gospel. It begins with a candlelight processional and ends with the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel.
Easter Sunday is an explosion of joy and we celebrate it with a communion service. The appointed lessons are Isaiah 65:17-25, 1 Corinthians 15:19-26, and Luke 24:1-12. We get to sing many of those great Easter hymns that have been loved for years and years. Our choir has two songs they are singing as well. (Though I didn’t mention it before, the choir is also singing during the evening Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services.)
In the past our men have provided an Easter breakfast for the congregation. However, this year, the gas in the church is turned off because of our busted heater. If we plug in a bunch of griddles, our circuit breakers would trip. So, no breakfast this year. However, we will have coffee, hot cross buns and other such things, to share before the service. Easter worship begins at 10:30 am. Bible class has been
canceled postponed until next week, when our regular schedule resumes.
Well, I pray we will be worshiping together many times over the next few days.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert