By Pastor Devin Strong, Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church.
As believers, we have a tendency to want to move from celebration to celebration, without paying attention to how we got there. In the Lutheran church, we talk about the Great Three Days – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday (Holy Saturday is included) — which fall between the joyous celebration of Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and the triumphant celebration of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
In a sense, the Great Three Days could be considered a single extended, worship service — one that is often minimally observed. It’s true many people are busy celebrating Easter weekend with family and friends but, perhaps if we gave some deeper thought to the meaning behind these three days, we would better understand and appreciate their relevance to Easter Sunday.
Maundy (Latin for commandment) Thursday refers to the commandment in John’s gospel to love one another as Jesus loved us. It was actually the Passover celebration that Jesus transformed into his Last Supper that he shared with His disciples. From a Christian perspective, by offering His body and blood, Jesus transformed the Passover meal into the sacramental Eucharist we celebrate today.
Lutheran tradition holds that the real presence of Jesus is “in, with and under the bread and wine,” and – because He is fully present during Communion — it is always experienced anew. The Great Three Days continue on Good Friday — a day reserved for telling the story of the Jesus’s last week of life and acknowledging His death. Why, then, do we call it Good Friday?
Because – as horribly as that day ended — the gift of Jesus’s death remains the most tangible example we have of His love for us!
At last, it’s time for the greatest celebration of the Christian tradition. Having reflected on the epic events of the Great Three Days, our glorious Easter celebration makes far more sense. We understand from what we’ve been saved and why we shout hallelujah over the discovery of an empty tomb. Jesus is alive in the world, telling us that no matter what we go through in life, at the end of the story, God wins! When we’re dealing with real struggles, it can feel like we’re stuck in Good Friday or Holy Saturday. That’s why we gather as Christians – to remind each other not to give up but to wait for the coming of Easter. That’s God’s promise for us all!
Spirit of Peace will celebrate Maundy Thursday outdoors with a light supper at 6:30 p.m. and a simple worship service (with NO Zoom component) at 7 p.m. Good Friday’s service will be a mixture of scripture readings and hymns held inside, in-person and via Zoom at 7 p.m. Our Easter Sunday celebration service includes special music and communion and will be held inside, in-person and via Zoom at 10 a.m. God loves you and so do I!