When you read a book, do you ever skip over the middle of the text and jump right to the end? Truth be told, if the book is slow I’m tempted, but I never do. Somehow it feels all wrong to jump to the conclusion before knowing how the author intended to bring you there. To me, it feels as if something crucial is missing.
The same is true for Holy Week.
Granted, some folks skip right from the Alleluias of Palm Sunday to the joy of Easter; from one high note to the next. The problem I see is that without the emotions of Maundy Thursday and the passion of Good Friday; Easter loses the incredible impact intended by the Author, God.
So what is Maundy Thursday? Or why Good Friday (and why call it “Good” if Christ died??) and why should you care? Let me give you the “Cliff Notes” on Holy Week to whet your appetite for what is coming!
Christians have traditionally called the week that spans Palm Sunday to Easter, Holy Week, as it includes the most holy days of the Christian calendar.
It all begins with Palm Sunday, when Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding a donkey into the throngs of people waving palm branches and shouting, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” If you follow this link you can watch my sermon from last weekend to discover the significance of the day, and why those who cheered Jesus that first Palm Sunday did the right things for all the wrong reasons.
Maundy Thursday (also called Holy Thursday) is the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples, at which he washed their feet, instituted holy communion (the blessings, breaking and sharing of the bread and cup of the new covenant), and gave his followers a new command: to love one another. Maundy comes from the Latin, Mandatum, or command.
Good Friday is the day that Christ was crucified and died. I remember years ago my son asking what was “good” about the day that Jesus died a miserable death? I tried to explain to him that the only good in this day was that Jesus’ death was for us, and that through his death he paid the price of sacrifice so that we could have eternal life.
And Easter? Well that would be the most joyous day in the Christian calendar when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, when God raised Christ from death to life!
Now, just to be clear, this short explanation is only the briefest summary of the most significant week in the Christian year. In reality, this synopsis of Holy Week may raise more questions than provide answers, which is precisely the point! I hope thinking about Holy Week whets your appetite and draws you out for our services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter! Here is a link to the entire schedule of services.
My prayer is that this Holy Week will be the most sacred time for you on your faith journey; that together we will experience the full impact of the unfolding story of God’s great narrative of life!