Blessed Holy Week! We have entered into one of the busiest, and most exciting times of the year in our church calendar. As Lent comes to a close, we prepare our hearts for the joy of Easter by remembering the many days and events that led to the death and resurrection of Christ. Some of these commemorations are less well known – for example, did you know that today, the Wednesday of Holy week, is called Spy Wednesday or Ugly Wednesday, commemorating Judas Iscariot’s betrayal? In central America, some people hang scarecrows labeled “Judas” from their porches on this day, and in Eastern Europe, children are expected to sweep the chimney on this day to rid their house of darkness. There are many other interesting traditions in other countries that commemorate the days of Holy week we often overlook. If you are interested, these can be quite fun and fascinating to learn about.
The days we most significantly remember and celebrate are Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. Palm Sunday (also called Passion Sunday) commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and the beginning of the end, so to say. Maundy Thursday, which we at Joyful Life will remember through a written devotion rather than an in-person service, Recalls the story of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet, spending his last moments as a free man by epitomizing servant leadership. Good Friday marks the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Holy Saturday recalls the waiting time between Jesus’ death and resurrection, and in some traditions and congregations, may end with an evening time Easter Vigil service, retelling 12 different stories throughout scripture of God’s faithfulness to God’s people. All this leads, as you all know, to the triumph and glory of the risen Christ on Easter.
Traditionally, the services of Holy week from Maundy Thursday until Easter, are thought of and celebrated as one continuous service. You will notice that Maundy Thursday’s devotion will end with no benediction or sense of closure. Our in-person Good Friday service will seem to begin rather suddenly, with no announcements, welcome, or confession, and it will end with very little sense of closure either. This is intentional, and it is part of our practice as Christians to experience and remember the unease and anticipation of the disciples. Like them, we will wait until Christ fulfills his word that on the third day he will rise. And oh, how joyful of a celebration that day will be.