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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (March 2016)

posted Feb 29, 2016, 11:04 AM by Russell D. Hampton

Christians in the ancient world celebrated Triduum – which means “three days.”  Triduum celebrates with solemnity Jesus’ passion and death and concludes with the joy of his resurrection.  Triduum lasts from Maundy Thursday evening through Easter Sunday.  In the past fifty years, the Lutheran church has witnessed a revival of the Triduum in the liturgical year.  Triduum has been celebrated in this parish since the 1950’s.    

One of the pastoral issues of the 21st century is that many Christians worship on Easter Sunday without observing the liturgies that lift up Jesus’ passion and death.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I believe that Easter Sunday is the most important Feast Day of the church year.  On Easter Sunday we celebrate God’s triumph over the powers of sin, death and the devil through Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection.  I pray that people will flock to church buildings to worship on this day.  Nevertheless, Christ’s death and resurrection go hand-in-hand.  We cannot find meaning in Christ’s death without his resurrection and there would be no weight to Christ’s resurrection without remembering his suffering and death.  As followers of our Lord Christ I think it is important we keep the whole feast of Triduum – beginning with Maundy Thursday moving to Good Friday and culminating with Easter Vigil.  For me, it gives a deeper meaning to the celebration in which we joyfully participate on Easter morning. 

Maundy Thursday: On this night we remember Christ’s last evening with his disciples.  He gathered around the table to share his final meal with them and instituted the Last Supper (which we celebrate each week in the liturgy of Holy Communion).  On this night, according to John’s gospel, Jesus knelt down to wash his disciples’ feet as a sign that he would give up his whole life for the sake of humanity.  “Then he came to Simon Peter. Peter said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’  Jesus replied, ‘You do not understand what I am doing now, but you will understand after these things.’” ~ John 13:6-7.  At the conclusion of the evening, Jesus is betrayed by Judas Iscariot and is arrested.  During the Maundy Thursday service, the community of faith gathers around Word and Sacrament, experiences the act of footwashing, and concludes with a stripping of the altar (to remember how Christ was stripped of his dignity and life).    


Good Friday: On this day, we journey with Christ through his trial, suffering, and death.  Traditionally the Passion according to John is read during the liturgy (Matthew’s, Mark’s, and Luke’s accounts are read during the liturgy of Palm Sunday).  The liturgy includes the Bidding Prayer, the Adoration of the Cross, and the Solemn Reproaches.  During the service, the sin of the world is revealed at its fullest in the suffering of God’s Son.  “At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ~ Matthew 27:46. 


Easter Vigil: Traditionally, Christians would gather on Easter Vigil around midnight to “keep watch” until Easter morning.  The vigil celebrates the transition from the darkness of death to the light of resurrection.  The liturgy begins with the lighting of the first flame.  Readings from the Old Testament are shared to remember God’s mighty acts in this world.  The service then transitions from the darkness to the light where participants gather around the Word proclaimed and the Sacraments shared. In the ancient world, catechumenates were baptized at the Easter Vigil.  Some clergy attempt to reserve baptisms for this service, but if there are no baptisms, a Thanksgiving for Baptism will be celebrated.  “Jesus said,Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene came and informed the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” ~ John 20:17b-20a.      

Blessings to your Lenten journeys and have a joyous Easter!  In Christ ~ Pastor Maureen