Rev. J.C. Austin

This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, the most important week of the Christian calendar. Palm Sunday is a wonderful celebratory day, in which we remember the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, when crowds of people lined the streets, waved palms, and laid branches and cloaks on the ground as a sign of honor. We will be celebrating accordingly at FPCB, with some special music and palms of our own to wave. It’s a wonderful day in the liturgical life of the church.

The only problem with Palm Sunday is that, if you worship only on Sundays during Holy Week, you jump straight from that celebration to the celebration on Easter morning, when the women who followed Jesus discovered the empty tomb because he had been raised from the dead. Doing so misses the full depth and power of Holy Week. So, I urge you to make a point of completing your Lenten journey with the special services we will have during the week.

The first is Maundy Thursday, at 7 pm. The word “Maundy” comes from a Latin word for mandate and refers to Jesus’ new commandment to his disciples: that they love one another as he loved them. The service will center on Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples and will include both communion and an option (not an expectation) to experience the ritual of foot-washing, which Jesus did for his disciples that last evening with them.

The second service is Good Friday and will be a Tenebrae Service. The Latin for “darkness,” Tenebrae is a service that walks through the narrative of Jesus’ arrest, torture, crucifixion, and death. A series of Scripture readings laying out the story is read, interspersed with appropriate hymns and music. After each reading, the lights in the Sanctuary are dimmed, until finally only candlelight illumines the final reading. The Christ candle, symbolizing Christ’s life, is then extinguished, and the service concludes in darkness and silence, symbolizing Christ’s interment in the tomb.

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services are strong in power and deep in meaning, and your experience of both Palm Sunday and Easter will be much richer if you participate in them. I hope you will join in and experience the full blessings of Holy Week. See you in worship!

Grace & Peace,