The Great Vigil of Easter is the culmination of the Triduum, one three-day service during Holy Week, the week Christians commemorate the final days of Jesus. It is one of the busiest times of the year for many clergy with services each day. This year, it also coincided with the anniversary of John’s death, which would lead to the anniversary of my grandmother’s death and the anniversary of my step-grandmother’s sudden death. Just to add to the stress, my stepfather was beginning the first of two serious surgeries for blood clots in his legs.
Posts Tagged ‘Holy Week’
So it’s not the pain of despair. A despairing Good Friday would be unbearable. That would be Bad Friday.
What makes Good Friday good, of course, is love, is Love, the willing sacrifice for the good of others. It is giving up, releasing, suffering, denying so others may have life, find joy, be accepted, come home, be healed.
The lifting up of Jesus on a cross is part of a single movement, part of his lifting up in his resurrection from the dead and his exaltation and ascension to union with God.
Isaiah 50 strikes a jarring note in the Palm Sunday celebrations. Which is just as well: we know the end of the story, the fickleness of the crowd, the turning of cheers to jeers. The only Hosannas that count are those that come afterwards, anticipating the day when every knee shall bow. Much as I enjoy Palm Sunday, I can’t help remembering that, when he was riding the donkey, Jesus was in tears.
Almost before I could get the words out of my mouth as I held the small paten with bread, and read the words of Jesus saying “Take eat, this is my body”… . Aspen immediately jumped up with delight and pointed upward saying, “Upstairs.”
With the beauty and power of art by John August Swanson and the insight from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology about the sacred text for the gospels, you can journey alongside Jesus as he journeys to the cross.
We have entered the most holiest of weeks for Christians and will soon be enveloped in the Triduum – three days of prayer in preparation of the greatest feast of the church year.
Only the Eucharist itself is older than the liturgy of the Great Vigil. This service reenacts the passage from death into life.
John’s portrait of Jesus emphasizes the divinity of Jesus. Jesus has been sent from heaven to earth to bring salvation—a new friendship with God through which we become God’s daughters and sons.
Although some dismiss this ritual as an empty gesture, given that it has no relation to our cultural context, the foot-washing nevertheless continues to be for most people a moving a powerful symbol at Maundy Thursday services. Its potential for spillage or embarrassment is perhaps the very thing that gives the foot-washing its power, for those who perform it in some sense lay themselves bare.
In Holy Week (April 1-7 this year) the church dramatizes the events leading up to and including the suffering of Jesus on the cross. At Easter we dramatize Jesus’ resurrection. We live in a very pluralistic society, but many people still recognize the significance of Holy Week and Easter even if they don’t attend a church.
Baptism has its roots in ancient practices that preceded Christianity. Jewish rituals of purification were centered on the cleansing of the body with water. Many Jewish customs found their way into the initiation rites of the Early Church.
In the early centuries of the Church, Lent was dedicated in particular not only to the preparation of catechumens for Baptism, but also to the preparation of penitents for reconciliation and re-admittance to the eucharistic assembly of the Church.
I recall my daughter saying, “We wanted to do something that was fun to do and look at. And no offense, but as a kid, the Paschal candles just seemed so ugly and drab to me, so I wanted to make something that kids would want to look at and maybe even spark their interest and learn more about.”
There’s enough drama at your church without having to worry about finding more!
For those of us who are professionals in the Church, making meaning through worship and program for our congregations is hard work. I am sure I am not the only Church staff member exhausted and slightly frayed around the edges on this Easter Monday morning.
Today is Good Friday. Many churches will hold 3 hour vigil services of prayer and readings. A tradition in many Protestant churches is for the sermon on Good Friday to be based on the “Seven Last Worlds” of Jesus from the cross – phrases and texts taken from all four passion narratives.
This year, April 22 is Earth Day, a secular event, as well as Good Friday, a high holy day for Christians. How can we celebrate both days in ways that honor the essence of these important holidays?
Children will be thinking bunny rabbits, Easter eggs and baskets, and time home from school. It is also the time to instill in them through prayer and practice the importance of Holy Week in their faith.
The events of Jesus’ death are shocking and violent, but we cannot fully live into Easter if we have not experienced Jesus’ death. There are ways to approach this with children that make it easier to share the whole story.