Pastor David Nehrenz
Dear Fellow Redeemed,
I like to explain each year the purposes and history of the Holy Week services in the Christian Church:
WHAT IS “THE TRIDUUM” WHICH BEGINS ON MAUNDY THURSDAY?
The most solemn and joyful celebration of the Christian calendar is the period from Maundy Thursday through Holy Saturday. Worship services on these days or evenings are traditionally considered to be parts of a single extended liturgical event called The Triduum (Latin for “Three Days”).
The first part of the Triduum begins on the evening of Maundy Thursday (also called Holy Thursday), during which Christians recall the events that took place the night Jesus was betrayed. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke concentrate on the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The gospel of John focuses instead on the Lord’s final teachings to His disciples, dramatically punctuated by His washing of their feet.
The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin phrase mandatum novum, meaning “new commandment.” It refers to the Lord’s words to His apostles as recorded in John 13:34: A new command I give you: love one another. The true climax of Maundy Thursday worship is the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. This night is the “anniversary” of the sacrament and therefore a memorable event.
After the sacrament has ended, the stripping of the altar takes place. This ancient ritual is a powerful and dramatic reenactment of the Lord’s humiliation at the hands of the Roman soldiers. The altar, left bare and is transformed from the Communion table of Maundy Thursday into the tomb stone slab of Good Friday.
WHAT ARE THE LITANY, THE CHIEF SERVICE AND THE TENEBRAE SERVICE ON GOOD FRIDAY?
The Litany and Readings at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon recall that Jesus was crucified at 9:00 a.m. and the sky went dark at 12:00 noon. The Chief Service in the afternoon is at 3:00 p.m., the time of day when Christ died. The vicar carries the cross down the aisle and the laments for Christ are sung. The readings are from the Gospel of John and the featured hymn is “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.” It gives quiet times for meditation and reflection on our Lord Jesus.
The Tenebrae service at 7:30 p.m. is patterned after the ancient office of Tenebrae. The Latin word “Tenebrae” means darkness. A total of eight candles are used in this service. Seven of these candles represent the seven last sentences which our Savior spoke from the Cross, and the eighth candle is the Christ Candle, which processes and recesses into the sanctuary.
The exit of the Christ Candle, at the close of the service, signifies Christ’s death and burial. When the book is lifted a few inches from the altar and slammed back down to create a definite closing sound, it symbolizes the stone that was rolled over the entrance to the tomb.
WHAT ARE THE EASTER SATURDAY GREAT VIGIL AND EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES?
The Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Easter Great Vigil begins in darkness in the narthex, processes by candlelight into the sanctuary, has readings from the whole Old Testament, centers on our baptism into Christ and ends with the celebration of the Christ’s resurrection and Holy Communion. It is one of the most ancient services in Christendom, at which the catechumens were baptized after a year-long period of catechesis.
The Easter Sunday services are the joyful outpourings of our Alleluias as we sing the hymns, hear the lessons and rejoice that “the Lord is risen indeed!” The women came to the tomb early in the morning, right before the sunrise, and spoke to the angels in the tomb. The reality of Jesus being raised on the third day was exactly as he said it would happen. Our salvation and justification by grace has been guaranteed and secured!
The 50 Days then begin from Easter Sunday to Ascension Day to Pentecost Sunday. Jesus gave convincing proofs over 40 days that he was risen from the dead and he promised the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Join us for all the Divine Services during these holy days of the church year. Honor our Lord Jesus Christ by making you participation the highest priority of your life!
Pastor David Nehrenz
P.S. Also join us for the Saturday April 24 “Hymnody in the Life of the Christian” Conference from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Vicar Jordan Peiser
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26
We are now entering the triumphal Easter season when we celebrate our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. We have passed from the penitential season of lent into the joyful celebration of our Lord’s triumph over the grave. Jesus teaches us that He is the resurrection and the life. And that Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. Jesus spoke these words to Martha after she came to Him to grieve and to say that if He had been there, Lazarus—her brother—would not have died. Jesus responded by reminding her of the hope of the resurrection. And yet, earlier in the text, we read that he also wept over His friend’s death.
The Lord who created heaven and earth and who would raise the dead grieved over death. Why? Because our Lord had never intended His creation to die. Jesus entered His creation out of love for it. Christ, our Lord, became incarnate so that He could demonstrate that he is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9). By His death on the cross, He is the “propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Jesus did not turn His face away from death. He willingly went to the cross and died so that He could conquer death and the devil. By His resurrection, He opened the way for us to enter eternal life so that “whoever believes in me [Jesus], though he die, yet shall he live.” Jesus became the first fruits of the resurrection so that all who believe in Him could also be raised with Him on the last day (1 Cor 15:20).
Let us pray: Almighty God the Father, through your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your lifegiving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen!
Vicar Jordan Peiser