Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Holy Week and Easter

Pastor’s Window for April 2009

Holy Week and Easter

Beloved in the Lord,

The beginning of April brings us to Holy Week and Easter. This is a sacred time for our Lord’s Church as the 40 Days of Lent come to their culmination in our Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday/ Sunday of the Passion on April 5. On this day we gather in the narthex with palm branches in hand to hear the Palm Sunday Gospel (John 12:12-19: The Triumphal Entry) and sing our hosannas with the people of Jerusalem as we process into the sanctuary. After a time of silence, the mood dramatically changes as the shouts of “Hosanna” become shouts of “Crucify.” We turn our attention to our Lord’s Passion (suffering) and cross. The Gospel lesson for Sunday of the Passion is the whole Passion account recorded by St. Mark (Mark 14:1-15:47). This is a long reading, to be sure, but it focuses us for the week ahead on our Lord Jesus Christ and His innocent, bitter suffering and death, which He endured for our forgiveness and salvation.

We will celebrate the service of Triduum beginning Thursday night, April 9 (Maundy, or “Holy” Thursday) 7 pm. Triduum means “three days.” The services for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday Easter Vigil actually comprise one service. Thus there is no benediction or closing hymn Thursday or Friday and no opening hymn Friday or Saturday. On Maundy Thursday we commemorate our Lord’s institution of His Holy Supper, receiving His body and blood in the Sacrament. As the service concludes, Psalm 22 is read while the altar guild strips the altar and chancel (the altar area) in preparation for Good Friday. Worshipers leave in silence, setting apart this somber and holy time for meditation on our Lord’s Passion.

On Good Friday (April 10, also 7 pm) we once again come face to face with all that our Lord suffered for us on the cross in a special Tenebrae service (service of darkness). Worshipers enter in silence. As we mediate on our Lord’s suffering and death the lights are progressively dimmed until all light is extinguished. The Paschal Candle is also extinguished and taken out of the sanctuary, symbolizing our Lord’s body being taken down from the cross. Then follows the strepitus (the slamming of the book), symbolizing the sealing of Christ’s tomb.

We leave in silence and darkness on Good Friday, only to arrive in silence and darkness Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil (April 11, 7 pm). The new day, Easter, begins at sundown on Saturday. The Paschal Candle is lit from a fire. Christ is risen. Death could not hold Him. The light of the Paschal Candle is spread to the vigil candles of all present. The light of Christ and the hope of the resurrection spread to those who believe in Him. We process into the sanctuary to meditate on a series of readings from the Old Testament foreshadowing Baptism, the new creation, and the resurrection. The lights are gradually turned on until finally all the lights brightly shine to reveal our sanctuary decorated for Easter. We receive from our Lord His true body and blood, crucified for our sins, risen for our justification. This time we don’t leave in silence, but once again take up our alleluia, leaving the sanctuary with praise and thanksgiving.

On Easter Sunday we will have two opportunities to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord: Easter Sunrise Divine Service at 7 am (followed by breakfast in the fellowship hall), and Easter Festival Divine Service at 9:15. Each service will have its own readings and sermon and different settings of the liturgy. I encourage you to consider coming to both.

The services of Holy Week and Easter allow us to step out of time and space to stand before the cross and the empty tomb. This is a holy season for the disciples of Jesus Christ. God grant us all cleansed hearts this Lententide, that we may be prepared joyfully to celebrate the paschal feast in sincerity and truth.

Pastor Krenz

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