It Begins Today

easter_bannerMost days I wake up and go over my list of things that I need to do for the day. Many of the things on my list I think to myself “I can do that tomorrow.” I never wake up and say that I need to do something TODAY (unless it really needs to be done that day). I believe most people, if we are honest think every year. “I would love to go to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services — but I will go next year, I need to do _________.” It can be a meeting, school event, family gathering or any number of things. Then the next year comes and we put it off another year. Life moves so quickly. Every time we put off something like worship, or any other things in our lives tells me that we can have a hard time appreciating what we have or know its value to us until it is gone. Life is a journey, and as we go through life we need to find the moments in our life that are special, that have meaning and purpose.

From its earliest days, the church has celebrated Christ’s journey, the church has documented many of Christ’s experience in the Bible.  Jesus moved from life to death to the resurrection during Holy Week.  These days, known as the Triduum or Three Days will begin with Maundy Thursday, continue on Good Friday, extend through the Vigil of Saturday evening and come to a conclusion on Easter Sunday (sundown on  Thursday to sundown on Sunday measured the three days in the ancient world). These experiences help us walk through the life of Jesus, his suffering for the sake of the world, his death and finally his triumph over death and the grave.

On Maundy Thursday Jesus’ actions reveal how important it is for us to live lives of servanthood. While the plot against him begins to unfold, Jesus has a meal with his disciples and afterwards washes their feet. His washing of his disciples’ feet is an enactment of his witness to the dominion of God: the first will be last; the lowly will be lifted up; whoever loves their life will lose it. This act of self-sacrifice is a living example of Jesus’ definition of love, one which he passes on to the twelve and to us. Washed by Jesus in our baptisms, we too are blessed with and challenged by God’s love in Christ and the command to share that sacrificial love with the whole world.

On Good Friday we experience the pain of the cross.  As the church tells our story, we typically don’t end with the cross.  However, it was on the cross that Jesus died for our sins, it was on the cross that Jesus said “Father forgive them for they do not know what they do,” it was on the cross that Jesus gave his final breath and was revealed as the son of God.  Jesus showed us first hand God’s love for us.

Good Friday is not a funeral service for Jesus.  It is a celebration of the triumph of the cross!  It is on the cross that God’s power is revealed and sin and death is defeated. Because God raised Jesus, the cross is now a symbol of how God triumphs in and through our acts of service and self-sacrifice. The tone of Good Friday is one of prayer and reflection. It is a solemn celebration of our Lord’s victory on the cross.

Easter begins on Saturday night with the Easter Vigil. A moment for some of the greatest stories of our faith heritage unfurled in one setting. In hearing these stories, we connect with the heart of our own faith story.

As the people of God, we have through history ached in suffering, celebrated in praise, begged for help, offered generous service, and in general led lives full to the brim. The stories of Easter Vigil remind us of the range of faithful moments, including both joy and desolation. Witnessing these ancient stories, we discover anew how God’s great story is for us. These stories are indeed our stories.

God brings us through fire and water, out of death and night, welcoming us into the light of life. This night we light a new Christ candle from a new fire. By the light of that flame we gather to remember who we are and where we have come from. We gather at the baptismal font, giving thanks for water that is a sign of death to sin and rebirth into eternal life and for the fire of the Spirit, animating ashes and dry bones.

On this night we remember that God’s great story holds all of our little stories: the joy and fear of a new baby, changing jobs, cancer, celebrating friendship, waiting for new faith to emerge. All of us are written into God’s ongoing and welcoming narrative of passionate grace and service.

Finally on Easter Sunday, we continue with the tomb is empty! Jesus Christ is risen! Like   Mary Magdalene, we experience the risen Lord and our sadness and weeping come to an end. We now begin a fifty-day feast that lasts until the day of Pentecost, when we celebrate Christ’s sending of the Holy Spirit, the one who guides and sustains us until we pass from this world to the next.

Faith has many opportunities for you to celebrate the Three Days of Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday                   April 17th  7:00 pm

Good Friday                            April 18th 7:00 pm

Easter Sunday                         April 20th 9:00 am and 11:00 am

If you have any questions about these events or other ministries that Faith Lutheran Church offers please contact us (978-632-2271) office@faithgardner.org or you can like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/faithlutherangardner

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