The Great Three Days

Though I swore I would not write a COVID-19 blog entry, I did so last week, referencing the rebooting of the organ and the nave.

As I am occasionally sneaking to the church to practice, the new acoustics in the nave are fantastic, and I cannot wait to hear congregational singing in the space!

COVID-19 is teaching us (me) patience, if nothing.

In the midst of personal distancing, self-quarantining, Zoom meetings, Zoom choir “rehearsals,” grocery internet orders, toilet paper hoarding, and all the rest, Holy Week and Easter are here. And we are observing Holy Week and Easter in new and rich ways.

We marked the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm/Passion Sunday this past week. On Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Holy Wednesday, we are worshipping with Evening Prayer each night, all livestreamed, of course.

Maundy Thursday this week begins The Great Three Days, also known as the Triduum, the three days including Good Friday and Holy Saturday, leading up to the Sunday of the Resurrection (Easter Day).

The liturgy for Maundy Thursday is sometimes known as the Maundy Thursday Ceremonies, as this liturgy contains a number of elements that again trace the life events of Jesus: the footwashing, the institution of the Eucharist, the stripping of the altar, and the all-night prayer vigil.

On the night before he was crucified, Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with the apostles at which he washed their feet and instituted the Eucharist (“This do in remembrance of me”) by blessing, breaking, and serving bread and wine.

After the supper, Jesus went out into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray (“Father, let this cup pass from me”), where he was then arrested and taken to be judged by Pontius Pilate. The scourging and mocking of Jesus is commemorated by the stripping of the altar.

The liturgy for Good Friday also contains a number of specific elements commemorating the Crucifixion: the reading of the Passion Gospel, the solemn collects, the veneration of the cross, and the singing or saying of anthems specifically extolling the cross.

The Triduum ends gloriously and triumphantly with the Great Vigil of Easter and the Easter Day celebrations. At the Easter Vigil the new fire is kindled (the regeneration of life in the tomb); the Paschal Candle (symbol of our baptisms) is lighted; the Exsultet, the greatest prayer of the Church, is chanted; and the first Eucharist of Easter is normally celebrated.

The celebrations of the Resurrection continue on Easter Day with the triumphant reading of the account of the women discovering the empty tomb and encountering the Risen Lord.

Via livestreaming this year, each of these Holy Week and Easter celebrations will be observed. Tune into our online platforms (website, Facebook, YouTube) where you can access and download PDFs of our service leaflets to follow along.

The three sad days are quickly sped,
he rises glorious from the dead:

all glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!

("The strife is o'er," Hymn 208, stanza 3)

A blessed Holy Week and Easter to us all! 

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Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Apr 8, 2020