Holy Week II: Faith tested to the end —

The Triduum (Three Days) . . .

Thursday, Friday and Saturday – is a distinct moment, part of the “Pasch” (to suffer) itself, not part of Lent, but the very time for which Lent is meant to prepare us, i.e. Lent prepares us for the cross, the byway to the empty tomb.  The empty tomb, Easter – that for which we strive and remember until it happens.

  • The theology of suffering and salvation is why Christians celebrate Easter on a different day than the Jewish community celebrates Passover every year. The Easter liturgy is the center point and character of the Christian remembrance practice.
  • But, on the other hand, the image of Christianity as bearer of hope has often disappeared under the emphasis on the cross rather than being heightened by the image of the empty tomb.

Mundy Thursday . . . The day of gifts given and gifts taken away; a study in mixed emotions

 Collect: Almighty Father whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood:  Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries give us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen (BCP p221)

Exodus 12:1-4 (5-10), 11-14 . . . instructions are given, and the meaning of the Passover meal is told:  it is a remembrance and reenactment of Israel’s beginnings as a people when they were saved out of slavery in Egypt.
Psalm 116:1-2,12-19 . . . An offering of thanksgiving and praise by one who has been rescued from death.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 . . . Paul recalls the tradition he received concerning the supper of the Lord on the night he was betrayed.
John 13:1-17, 31b-35 . . . Jesus washes his disciples’ feet during his last meal with them

Good Friday . . . after the glory of Thursday, the saddest day of the liturgical year.

  • Are we willing to lovingly and boldly walk in the midst of all the selfishness, hatred and fear that surrounds us (to pick up our cross and follow Jesus)?
  • The fast whets the need for the return of Christ in our own lives.

Collect: Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen (BCP p221)

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 . . . the poem of the Lord’s servant who suffers and bears the sins of many.
Psalm 22 . . . A psalm of lamentation and plea for deliverance by one who feels deserted and pressed in on every side, expressing final confidence in God’s goodness.
Hebrews 10:16-25 . . . God has established the promised new covenant through which our sins are forgiven and God; laws are written on our hearts
 John 18:1-19:42 . . . the story of Jesus’ trials before the Jewish council and Pilate, followed by his suffering and death.

Holy Saturday: The Loss that is Gain . . .

“The day nobody talks about.  Jesus is absent, our inner light is out, all hope seems to have died and there are no liturgical assemblies until night fall. 

On this day faith is not about counting our blessings; it is about dealing with darkness and growing in hope. For we know now that without Jesus, there is for us no bridge to God Once we knew, looking at him, what we ourselves were meant to be, as well, if we were to be fully human at all.

There is the hope that we can begin, finally, to see the world as God sees the world and so trust that God is indeed everywhere in everything at all times – in the abstruse as well as the luminous, whether we ourselves can see the hand of God in this moment or not.

To be able to come to that point before the beginning of Easter Vigil, before the cantor sings the Exultet into the darkness, is what Holy Saturday is really all about.  Then loss is gain, and silence is a very clear message from God.”  Joan Chittister. In “The Liturgical Year” Chapter 24, pp 152 – 157

Collect: O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen (BCP p221)

Job 14:1-14 . . . Job reflects on the brevity of human life.
Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16 . . . A song of trust by one who looks to the Lord for mercy and protection
1 Peter 4:1-8 . . . Believers are encouraged to live devoted to the will of God, steering clear of all forms of dissipation.
John 19:38-42 . . . Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea prepare Jesus’ body for burial according to custom.