As Palm Sunday approaches and ushers in Holy Week, perhaps you are curious what Maundy Thursday celebrates or why “Good Friday” is called “good.” The following letter was written by Rev. Eric Jorgensen, Pastor of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church and founder and Chairman of the SSCCA School Board, to help shed light on these meaningful Easter week traditions.
Did you know that the word “remember” occurs over 120 times in the Old Testament? God’s people had difficulty remembering. And today, so do we. Thankfully the Christian tradition provides means for us to remember what God the Father has done for us by sending his only Son Jesus Christ. One of those means is a church calendar that tells the story of the life and ministry of Jesus and a highlight on that calendar is Holy Week followed by the celebration of the resurrection. Holy Week, or Passion Week, marks the days and events leading up to the death and burial of Jesus. Palm Sunday celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus as he rode in on a donkey into the city of Jerusalem. He rode in on an animal symbolic of peace but Jesus instead turned over tables and turned over the lives of everyone in that city.
While there are Christian traditions that mark every day of Holy Week most mark Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The word “maundy” means “command”. On Maundy Thursday Christians remember the command of Jesus to love one another and an important symbol of that love is to celebrate with the sharing Holy Communion. Good Friday is called such because of the good Jesus did for humanity in freely giving up his life or our sins. Some traditions also mark the day by sharing Holy Communion or having a special service called Tenebrae (meaning darkness) where candles are extinguished as the suffering of Jesus is read from Holy Scripture. All such services are to help us remember that Jesus lived sacrificially and died as a sacrifice for the sins of all who place their trust in him. These memories help us grow in faith and love for him and cause a great hope within us that we allow to be expressed on Easter Morning where we announce that he is risen, HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Have a blessed Holy Week and a Celebratory Easter!