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Holy Week, Easter, What’s It All About?

Upcoming is the most holiest of weeks, Holy Week. The week extends from Palm Sunday (April 13) through Easter (April 20). It is in this week that everything we receive has its culmination, this week is the entire point and summary of the Christian faith. It is the death of Christ which gives forgiveness of sins. Why do we need forgiveness of sins? We are conceived and born in sin, thus we all die. “The wages of sin is death,” (Rom. 6:23) wages are what we earn for ourselves, we deserve death. But the verse continues, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As the whole chapter proclaims, we are set free from sin and death. The week recalls what it is that we receive in Baptism, the death and resurrection of Christ.

Here a few highlights and meanings to each service for the week:

Palm Sunday: April 13th (Sunday service 8am, 10:30am; Monday 7pm)

The service begins in the back with the Confession followed by the children processing in with Palms. In the culture of the day, palms branches were used a symbol of victory, the victory that was coming through Christ. The temple of the Old Testament also had palms in the walls and doors (1 Kings 6:29) and the people in Revelation 7 raise palm branches in honor of Christ. The reading from there is that of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling the prophesy of Zechariah 9:9 and Psalm 118:25-26.

“Paschal Triduum (Three Days) Service” –  the following are all one service that flow from each other. These are all incomplete without each other. For this reason, there is no Benediction to close the service Thursday of Friday, as the close of service comes with Easter Vigil.

Maundy Thursday: April 17th, 6:30pm

The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin, “maundatum”, which means mandate or command. It comes from the night Jesus gives the Lord’s Supper and in doing so he tells His disciples, “a new commandment (maundatum) I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) This is night before the Lord is betrayed and gives the Lord’s Supper. This will be a celebration of the Lord’s Supper and our confirmands will receive their first Communion. At the end the paraments from the Altar is “stripped” as Christ was stripped of His garments before His crucifixion.

Good Friday: April 18th, 6:30pm

We recall the Passion text of our Lord’s death on the cross for us. Long has this been called the Passion, coming from the Greek word “pascho” which in Latin is “passio” which means “to suffer.” In the Transfiguration accounts Jesus fortells that He must suffer, pascho, (Matthew 17:12, Mark 9:12) and after is His suffering, pascho, at the Ascension in Acts 1:3. This is a “Tenebrae” service, which means “in the shadows.” As all the candles of the Altar are extinguished, we leave the service in the shadows and darkness as we who are baptized are buried with Christ. The darkness reminds of the darkness of the tomb as Christ is buried.

Vigil of Easter: Saturday April 19th, 7pm
IMG_8736The practice and service dates to 638AD. The service begins outside by the fire as we keep vigil and await the Lord’s resurrection. We enter the Church in darkness by candlelight, following the light of Christ. The darkness we enter is the tomb we left from on Good Friday. The Old Testament readings all proclaim the promise of the resurrection. For centuries this was the time when new members would receive Baptism and Confirmation, and this year we look forward to not only Baptismal remembrance but the receiving of Baptism. Then the proclamation of the resurrection comes and the lights are turned on as Christ who is risen has proclaimed victory over death and hell and gives us Himself who is the light of the world. Alleluia is proclaimed for the first time in the Church since before Ash Wednesday.

Easter Sunday: April 20th (Sunday service 8am, 10:30am; Monday 7pm)

The beginning of a 50 day season which goes through Pentecost celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord as He gives us forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Join us for the feast of victory, the feast that is celebrated each Sunday throughout the year as it is the Lord’s Day. There will also be a breakfast at 9:15am between services with donations to LYF.

We look forward to receiving Christ’s gifts as He comes to fulfill all Scripture in death and resurrection.

Peace be with you.