FOR MAUNDY THURSDAY, April 13
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17 31-35
FOR GOOD FRIDAY, April 14
Isaiah 52:13- 53:12
John 18 - 19
FOR EASTER SUNDAY, April 16
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
This week defines the Christian faith.
We worship and serve the God Who lived among us humans, the God Who loves the very people who abuse Him and kill Him.
We worship and serve the God Who then raised Jesus from the dead, and we live in hope of being raised with Jesus.
It is useless to “explain” our God and our connection to Him except by telling and re-telling the stories of what Jesus did in this Holy Week.
On Palm Sunday, we tell how Jesus entered Jerusalem, fully aware that he will die there, this week. Yes, the crowds treated him like a hero or a celebrity that day... but we tell this Palm Sunday story with mixed feelings, knowing that sometimes we put Jesus on a pedestal, but many times we put him on the cross.
On Thursday, we tell how Jesus gathered his disciples for their final meal together before his death. During that meal, which we call The Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist (“Thanks!”), Holy Communion, and other special names, Jesus used words to teach his followers... but, perhaps more powerfully than words can say, he gave them the bread to remember his body and the cup of wine to remember his blood.
Some congregations have the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, nearly every time they meet for worship. Others, like our Bethel, set aside special dates to practice the Eucharist. This week, Thursday evening supper at Bethel will serve as a re-enactment of that meal two thousand years ago in Jerusalem. It is food telling a story. The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:23 – 25
So then, on Friday, we remember how Judas led the authorities to where Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane; how Jesus’ disciples ran away and denied knowing him; how the authorities arrested Jesus and put him on trial; and how the crowds cried out for Jesus to be crucified. Some of you heard this story told on Sunday, in the latter part of our worship service. We call it “the Passion,” which means suffering.
So, then, why do we call this Friday “Good Friday”?
It certainly wasn’t a good Friday for Jesus.
In fact, it’s rather selfish for us to say that it’s a Good Friday— because it is we, mere human sinners, who benefit from the Passion of Jesus Christ the Son of God. We might say that Jesus’ goodness to us turns his worst Friday into our Good Friday.
Perhaps this thousand-year-old poem ascribed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux expresses it best:
What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered,
Was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior !
’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor,
Vouchsafe to me Thy grace.
What language shall I borrow,
To thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this, Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end ?
Oh ! make me Thine forever,
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee.
(O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Or, as Psalm 116 says,
What shall I return to the LORD
for all His bounty to me?
I will offer to You a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the LORD.
Praise the LORD ! (verses 12, 17, 19)
The gospels tell us that Jesus was dead from Friday until Sunday morning. That is when we Christians gather, on Easter Sunday, to re-tell the Resurrection story, how God raised Jesus from the dead.
Come, be a part of God’s grand story !