Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holy Week Services

As I have written before, Holy Week is my favorite time of the church year. I feel so much closer to Christ as I walk in His footsteps through this week, experiencing just a little of what He did two thousand years ago.

Last night I attended an Instructional Seder meal with the Anglicans. My friends from our town, Luke and Sheri, came with me, and we enjoyed going through the Hebrew Haggadah as Father Acker showed us the parallels between Passover and the Last Supper. Filling up that wine glass four times was a bit dizzying, even though I didn't fill it more than a fourth each time. We also enjoyed a lovely meal together in fellowship as Ben and Holly provided the lamb (not a favorite of mine, I must say) and everyone else brought something delicious to the potluck meal. Hearing how Jesus broke the middle piece of matzoh that symbolized freedom from slavery when He said, "This is my body, broken for you" reinforced how Jesus frees us from the slavery of sin by His sacrificial death and glorious Resurrection. And learning that Jesus lifted the cup of Elijah, only to be drunk by the coming Messiah, when He said, "This is the cup of the New Covenant" demonstrated His Kingship and that He indeed was the Messiah to the disciples and now to us sent shovers up my spine. The symbolism is so amazing, so staggering. It was a beautiful meal and a beautiful time of fellowship with believers as well as an amazing realization of Christ as Messiah to the Jews and to the world.

Tonight I'll attend the Maundy Thursday service at Victoria House, I hope with my friend Teri. In the service tonight we'll celebrate the Institution of Holy Communion and will also have a footwashing. This service almost always brings me to tears as it demonstrates the extent of Christ's humility and love to each of us.

On Good Friday I'll take the kids to Lake Murray's Stations of the Cross -- 14 Biblical Stations with Scriptures and Old Masters' artwork from the Gethsemane to the Tomb. There's also a fifteenth Station on the Resurrection done in white, and an area for prayer has ben set up at the end, with candles lit in front of the "rugged cross" in the sanctuary. Then at noon we'll attend the ecumenical Stations of the Cross with five churches in Alpine, including the Anglicans. The crosses are outside, and as we walk to each one, different pastors will read Scripture aloud and Father Acker will lead us in praise choruses as we walk to the next Station. It's a lovely and deeply touching devotion. Then we'll go back to Lake Murray at 7 PM for their Good Friday service. I hate to miss the Anglican service as we usually read the account of the crucifixion from St. John's Gospel, each of us taking parts and all of us shouting with the crowd: "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" It's powerful and convicting. But I'm sure that Lake Murray's service will also be amazing.

Then on the evening before Easter, we'll attend the Holy Saturday Vigil with the Anglicans at Victoria House in which we'll light the Paschal candle, and then proceed into the house with each of us holding a candle. It's a solemn and beautiful service, ending with the first Evensong of Easter and an Easter feast -- Lent is officially broken and He is Risen!

We'll celebrate the Resurrection at Lake Murray. In Bill's Sunday School class, we've been studying St. Matthew's Gospel for over three years, and guess where we are as of Sunday? At the Resurrection! Then I hope that we'll have a beautifully joyful service second hour. (If we don't sing "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" I will be quite unhappy!)

We're having Easter dinner with my side of the family up at the cabin; we'll have an Easter egg hunt with the kids and a lovely dinner. My brother and his kids are coming up, so the cousins will be together again.

So a blessed Holy Week to you all. May the sacrifical death and glorious Resurrection of Christ our Lord be more real to you this week than ever before. (That's my prayer for myself as well as for all of you.)

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