Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” ~ John 19:11
I had a plan for this week. I had planned on talking about the various services of the days of Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday). They are my favorite services of the year. But this year, they won’t be happening. At least, not in the way they usually happen. A lot of my plans for Easter are dramatically different than what I had planned.
So instead of talking about the services, I’ll talk about the days and why it’s important to remember the reasons behind each of these important days.
Maundy Thursday is the day we remember the Last Supper. It’s a deeper remembrance than communion on Sunday. It’s remembering the entire evening. A key part of Maundy Thursday for me is remembering the humble service of the King of Kings. Jesus, the Son of God, the one who was there when the world was created, the teacher and leader of the group, took it upon himself to wash the feet of his arguing, bickering disciples.
I’m guessing if I asked for a show of hands, a majority of you are not big fans of touching other people’s feet. You do know you have it easy in today’s world of tennis shoes and boots where we drive cars, right? We aren’t walking miles of dusty roads in sandals trying to dodge the “gifts” left behind by beasts of burden walking along the same road. If you think feet are gross today, you would have been absolutely appalled at the feet of 2000 years ago in the Middle East. And yet, those are the feet Jesus washed.
Jesus didn’t make a big show of it. He didn’t snap at anyone to “just give me the stuff so we can get this done with.” He didn’t respond to Simon Peter’s objections with anger. He didn’t lecture his disciples on the important moment they were missing. He simply undertook the task normally reserved for the lowliest servant in the house.
So my Maundy Thursday question for you is this: Would you be humble enough to do the same? Would you take on the job no one else wants to do? How do you view those who do those “lowly” jobs? Do you look down on them or do you respect them for doing an honest day’s work? Think about how you treat and think about the janitorial staff at your place of employment. Now try to imagine going through the COVID-19 pandemic if they all refused to work. I’m guessing most of us have begun to realize how grateful we are for their work in recent weeks.
Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. I love that it is a day of open grief in the church. We all are sobered to realize that someone died for our sins. And not only did Jesus die on our behalf, but he died a horrible, painful, gruesome death which was preceded by torture to the point where he was barely recognizable as human. We are stunned into silence that he has died. We sit in shock as the events leading up to the moment of his death unfold before us during the Good Friday service. As the crowd cries out for his blood, we are forced to realize that we likely would have been in that crowd.
The entirety of creation was stunned at the moment of his death. Matthew 27 tells us that, in the middle of the afternoon, at what was supposed to be brightest part of the day, for 3 hours the sun was hidden and darkness fell over the land. At the moment of his death, the earth trembled, rocks were split in two, and holy people who had died came to life. And what is probably the most significant happening for me: the curtain the temple tore into two. A curtain which, according to most scholars, was at least several inches thick and was said to need 300 priests to manipulate it due to its weight, was torn into two. This curtain divided the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. It literally divided heaven and earth in Jewish worship. And with Jesus death, the divide between heaven and earth is forever bridged.
So my Good Friday question for you is this: What do you need to allow yourself to grieve in your life at the moment? We aren’t very comfortable with grief and loss but here is a day in the church calendar which tells of the most significant death in all of human history. It is a day which reminds us that lose is something which is supposed to stun us, to stop us in our tracks, to cause a pain so great that even the foundations of the earth might be affected and shaken. Perhaps it is someone you’ve lost, or a relationship which has been broken, or a dream which has slipped through your fingers. This is your day to unapologetically to grieve.
Holy Saturday is a day of watching, waiting, and preparing. Jesus followers missed what they were truly watching and waiting for 2000 years ago. They prepared Jesus body for burial and were trying to figure out what their next steps were now that their teacher, and their hopes of a political messiah, were gone. They missed that they were supposed to be waiting and watching for Jesus’ victory over death.
On Saturday evenings, many churches gather to celebrate an Easter Vigil service. It’s a service where you gather as the sun sets around a fire outside of the church, much like the disciples likely gathering around a fire to wonder what to do next. You huddle together in the dark church as a single lighted cancel enters from the back. You listen to the scriptures which tell the story of salvation from the very first days of creation. The church gradually gets brighter and brighter until the good news of the Gospel is proclaimed: Jesus is Risen! Easter has arrived!
If you time it just right, you celebrate Easter right at 12:01 AM. So yes, it’s a long service and a late night but it’s totally worth it. It reminds you that the story of Easter didn’t start with Maundy Thursday, Palm Sunday, or even the birth of Christ. It started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It started with the moment of creation because it has always been God’s plan to dwell with us.
So my Holy Saturday question to you is this: What are you watching and waiting for? Do you have such a strong preconceived idea of what it will look like that you are missing it actually happening? In the midst of you watching and waiting, what are you doing to be prepared for when it happens? What lights do you see in the midst of the darkness?
I won’t be able to gather in person with any of you for these amazing services on these important days this year but I’m doing my best to not let the significance of the day pass me by. And know that I, and everyone here at camp, can’t wait until we can greet you with the joyful proclamation: “Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!”
Check out the Holy Week Resources we have found! Find something which makes this week meaningful for your family.
Music a great way to reflect and meditate on the messages of these days. Check out some of my favorite music for these days:
Recreate the services in some way in your home. Do an act of service for each other. Talk about what you grieving the loss off in this season of social distancing. Give yourself something to look forward to which will bring new life in some way to your daily routines.