Maundy Thursday is observed on the day before Good Friday. The name is derived from the Latin dies mandati , the Day of Commandment, referring to the words of the Gospel John 13: 14-15, “You also ought to wash one another’s feet,”, and to verse 34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,” as well as, the command of the Epistle, I Corinthians 11: 24-25, “This do in remembrance of Me.” Three commandments:
Anciently, three masses were appointed: for the reconciliation of penitents; for the consecration of the holy oils; and for the special commemoration of the Institution of the Lord’s Supper. They blessed the oils to be used at the Service of Baptism and Confirmation at Eastertide and for the consecration of bishops, the dedication of churches, altars, bells, etc. Yet today, in Catholic churches the holy oils are blessed.
The feet washing rite, on Maundy Thursday still survives in some localities and churches. In England, the rite was performed by the sovereigns to as many paupers as the sovereign was years old, James II, being the last to observe it. The royal Maundy alms are still distributed at Westminster Abbey annually, although the special Maundy coins are no longer minted.
In some churches after the Maundy Thursday Holy Communion Service, the organ remains silent, the bells are not rung, and the altar is stripped. The officiating minister, vested in violet surplice and stole, goes to the altar with his assistants and there they recite Psalm 22 with the antiphon, “They parted my garments among them.” Everything is removed from the altar so that it is completely bare. The altar itself is then washed, the sacred vessels are washed and polished, and the sacred linens and vestments are cleansed and made ready for Easter.
Hope will celebrate Maundy Thursday (Command Thursday) at 11:00am. We will use many of the traditional ceremonies and include Holy Communion.
Good Friday, the Friday of Holy Week in the calendar of the Christian churches, is set apart to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. The earliest name for this day, “Pascha,” refers to the Jewish Passover celebrated at this time. In the beginning the day’s observances grew out of this Jewish Passover custom of keeping “the days of unleavened bread” from the fourteenth to the twenty-first Nisan. Other names were: “Day of the Lord’s Passion,” Day of the Absolution,” and “Day of the Cross.” The name “Good Friday” is a peculiarly English expression. It reflects the joy of completed redemption and protests against superstitious notions that all Fridays are “unlucky” and that this particular Friday must be shrouded in funeral gloom. Although, it is more probably derived from a corruption of “God’s Friday.” It was called “Long Friday” by the Saxons and Danes, apparently in allusion to the long services held on that day in the churches. In medieval days, notably in Spain, the churches were closed on this day as a sign of mourning.
Good Friday Worship Services reflect the character of solemn, restrained praise. Scripture passages are read or chanted which relate to the Passion of Christ, most using the Gospel of John chapters 18:1 through 19:42. Many have Tre Ore Services that last for three hours, from 12:00 Noon to 3:00 pm. The Tre Ore Services are usually composed of a Good Friday Litany, the reading of the Passion according to St. John, sermons on the Passion or the Seven Last Words of Jesus on the Cross, and the Bidding Prayer. The germ of the Bidding Prayer may be found in the worship of the Jewish synagogue, where prayers were offered for members of the Jewish community and their needs. The early Christians expanded the idea. Justin Martyr in the second century speaks of such a prayer as the "Deacon’s Litany " or the "Prayer of the Faithful." The text of today's Bidding Prayer probably dates from the time of Leo the Great in the fifth century.
Hope will celebrate Good Friday at 11:00am.
A vigil is an evening service of Scripture readings and prayers in which believers vigilantly and eagerly wait and watch for the celebration of the Savior’s deliverance. Old Testament believers waited through the night of the Passover for God to deliver them from the Egyptians. The midnight worship reported in Acts 20:7-12 is another example of late-night waiting and watching. One might say that our Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve services are vigils of sorts.
The Easter Vigil is the most well known and historic of the Church’s vigils. In fact, in its general structure, it is one of the most ancient rites of the Christian Church. Early records indicate that it may have been celebrated in Jerusalem already by the second century, and it soon spread to the rest of the church.
From its beginnings, the Easter Vigil was closely connected to Holy Baptism. In the pagan world, a conversion to Christianity meant making a clean break from one’s former life style. It also meant facing difficult times, perhaps even death. The instruction of adults was, therefore, intensive and thorough, practical as well as intellectual. The instruction intensified during the season of Lent, as catechumens pondered not only the Savior’s battle with evil, but also their own battle with Satan and his forces. The instruction culminated with baptism at the Easter Vigil.
The meaning of the service
In many ways, the Easter Vigil is the partner of the Good Friday Tenebrae Service. Just as darkness signals Jesus’ death, so also the light signals Jesus’ resurrection. During the service, the initial darkness in the sanctuary is overcome by light, reminding us of the fact that death was unable to conquer Christ.
The Easter Vigil stresses the Christian’s participation in Christ’s resurrection, focusing on the means by which the blessings of Christ’s resurrection become our own. Through the reading of the Word worshipers are reminded of God’s great acts of deliverance, the culmination of which was his resurrection from the dead. By remembering and witnessing the Sacrament of Baptism, worshipers are reminded that through baptism we are joined to Christ in his death and resurrection (Romans 6:1-4). Through Holy Communion, worshipers share in the body and blood of the risen Christ and celebrate their reconciliation to God.
The service was designed in such a way to allow New Testament Christians to participate in God’s deliverance from the slavery to sin through Word and Sacrament the way Old Testament Christians would have participated in God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt through Passover and Exodus. These hymn stanzas from “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” capture the Christian’s participation in Christ’s resurrection through the means of grace well:
Where the paschal blood is poured,
Death’s dread angel sheaths the sword;
Israel’s host triumphant go
Through the wave that drowns the foe. Alleluia!
Praise we Christ, whose blood was shed,
Paschal victim, paschal bread;
With sincerity and love
Eat we manna from above. Alleluia!
Hope will celebrate the Easter Vigil at 7:00pm on Saturday.
Hope Lutheran Church
4800 Montevallo Road
Birmingham, Alabama 35210
P: (205) 956-1930
A Member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS)
"Connecting People to Jesus
Word and Sacrament Ministry"
Copyright © 2016 Hope Lutheran Church
Created by Pastor Dan Carlson