Yes, it’s Holy Week. Come with me and I’ll show you how to keep it Holy.
Thursday night is Maundy Thursday. Here at Prince of Peace we will gather for a very special Service of Holy Communion at 8:00 p.m. It is “very special” because we will remember specifically that it was on “this night” that Jesus was eating the Old Testament Passover Meal with His disciples to commemorate the “exodus” of God’s people from slavery in Egypt.
That meal was centered around bread, which the people baked quickly so they could leave Egypt quickly, and also around wine, which represented the blood of the perfect lambs, which were the sacrifice that gave rise to God’s mighty act of freedom and salvation.
When Jesus took the bread, He changed the meaning of the bread, which now becomes His Body. And He changed the meaning of the wine, which now becomes His Blood, which He gave on the cross for the freedom and salvation of all who believe.
In our Communion Service we will hear, “In the night in which He was betrayed our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is My Body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me. Again, after supper, He took the cup (wine), gave thanks, and give it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in My Blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.”
The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word “mandatum,” which means mandate or command. Jesus gave two important commands that night at The Last Supper. One, to love one another as He has loved us. And two, to continue to do the eating and drinking of Holy Communion in remembrance of Him.
Friday of Holy Week is “Good Friday” because it is so amazingly good for us that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us all our sins. Some Christians worship in extended services from noon to three o’clock, to mark the time Jesus was on his cross. Others worship in the most solemn worship service of the entire year, using a service called “Tenebrae,” which means “shadows.” In this service there is a progressive darkening of the sanctuary as worshippers meditate on the “Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross.”
In our congregation all worshippers will enter our sanctuary at Noon or 8:00 p.m. in solemn silence. Seven candles will be seen in prominence on and around the altar, each one lit. Then, as we read the utterances of Jesus as He hung on the cross, we will hear brief reflective meditations on each of these seven beautiful statements. Interspersed with these meditations the candles will be extinguished one by one, and we will either sing great hymns that bring us to the cross of Christ, or listen to the choir or soloists bringing us music in the mood of solemn remembrance of what Christ did for us on His cross on that day.
We believe and declare that, by His death on that cross, Jesus defeated satan, crushing him underfoot, and freeing us from our sin, death, and the power of the devil. At the conclusion of this service, we will all leave in total silence, even continuing our reverent silence out into the parking lot and as we drive home in our cars. I have been told by some worshippers that this is the most “impressive” service of the year.
Of course, Holy Week concludes on Easter Sunday with the glorious celebration of the declaration that Jesus, whom we saw crucified and buried, is no longer dead but that He is risen from the grave. “Why seek ye the living among the dead?” the angels say. “He is not here. He is risen. Hallelujah!”
This Good News will ring throughout everything we say, do, sing, and celebrate on Easter Sunday. The sanctuary will be decorated with the traditional Easter lilies, which will “trumpet” the life-giving message of The Resurrection of Christ. Banners will give witness to the sadness-turned-to-utter-joy theme of this Great Truth. All the music and preaching will resound with joy and excitement for the new life we are given in Christ and His Resurrection.
Oh yes, there will be Easter bonnets, new dresses, new ties, and an Easter Egg Hunt. But these have no value in themselves. They are only joyful physical reminders that Jesus’ coming back to life gives us and the whole world the real new life we so desperately need and want, both now and for eternity.
I encourage you all to attend the Holy Week and Easter Services in your home church. If you are without a home church at this time, please come and join us at Prince of Peace. Wherever you keep Holy Week holy, you will receive the greatest blessing there is – The Good News in Jesus Christ.
Find Kollmeyer at princeofpeacefayette.org. Easter Sunrise Outdoors 7:30 a.m., Contemporary 9:15, Traditional 11:15.