Holy Week will be upon us soon. Worship opportunities of Holy Week are a significant part of the story. Are you getting the whole story? Your participation in this week of rich and beautiful worship opportunities can enhance your families understanding of that most historically significant time in the life of Jesus Christ. If you haven’t participated in all of these services of Holy Week in the past, please consider them this year. Experience the complete story of Holy Week just once, and it will forever become part of your family’s Easter tradition.
Also known as Palmarum, this is the Sixth Sunday in Lent. Traditionally the Gospel reading depicts the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Some traditions call this Passion Sunday. This marks the beginning of Holy Week and attending this service prepares you for the services to follow later in the week.
The Thursday of Holy Week is the anniversary of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Maundy means mandate or command from the “New Commandment of Christ” in John 3:5,34. Come participate with your Immanuel family in the Lord’s Supper on this important day that leads up to Christ’s death on the cross.
This is the day commemorating our Savior’s death on the cross. Here at Immanuel, we recognize this day with our popular Tenebrae service. We leave the service in the darkness of Christ’s death, anticipating the return of the light of the Christ candle on Easter Vigil.
A special service the Saturday before Easter, this is perhaps the most unique service we have at Immanuel. In essence, there are four services. These services take us from the darkness of the
burial tomb to the vibrant celebration of the risen Jesus Christ.
The first service is a candlelight service that begins in darkness, reminding us that even though Jesus has died, He has not been defeated. The Christ candle enters in with a majestic processional. The congregation lights their candles from the source of the Christ candle with a crescendo into a peaceful lighting of the nave from the light of all the candles. The next service is the service of the Word, where four of twelve traditional lessons are read recalling the crossing of the Red Sea, 40 years in the wilderness, and other events in Israel’s salvation history.
Then the turning point, the service of Baptism, takes place. Historically, adult baptisms were done in this service after a period of catechesis. Here the transition to Easter takes place. Sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ, the old Adam is drowned and the new creation in Christ comes out of the waters of baptism, transitioning the service to a true Easter celebration. The lights come up, the Easter anthems are sung, the altar guild and pastors dress the chancel area in white with trumpet shaped Easter lilies framing the alter. This culminates in our celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the highest form of fellowship in the church – a foretaste of the feast of heaven on Earth.
If you have never been to Easter Vigil service, please try it this year. It will give you a whole new understanding of Holy Week.
This is the celebration of the resurrection, part of the process of looking backward at the actions of God. The Easter experience caps all of God’s efforts to rescue people from sin and death.