It is midway in Holy Week, toward the destination of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. For most Lutherans, it is just another week. We have services every evening and a morning and afternoon through this week but the pews will hardly be full. This year we compete not only against work and school but against school break and the line of cars headed out of town for recreational venues or visits with family. Perhaps it is foolish to think that people are thinking of the events of this week of weeks or that they should be keeping time with the sacred time of the church year and its calendar of services. If they would, they would hear the Passion from all the Gospels as well as the familiar events of the Upper Room and Calvary. But Holy Week has become holy weak, a shadow of its former self.
When I was in public school in a small town in Nebraska, the school teachers shepherded the school children across the street to the Augustana Lutheran Church building and each day during Holy Week one of the pastors in town preached to the students. Illegal now and probably not necessarily the best of ideas but it showed the devotion in this week that extended past denominational barriers to unite a Christian people in recalling and being renewed in the story of Jesus and His love expressed in the events spanning from Palm Sunday to Easter.
We have a few faithful folks who try to get to as many services as they can but most of our folks tend to pick one or perhaps two services of Holy Week. I guess that some think I have become rather cranky and sound like an old man trying to recreate his youth. That is really not it at all. I wish only that at least once in their lives, Christians might find the time for the full complement of services and experience the riches of the liturgical offerings by which we make our way slowly and deliberately to the cross and empty tomb.
Everywhere I have gone the full schedule of Holy Week services has been added and that includes the Easter Vigil. In the 38+ years I have been a pastor, only a couple of times have there been no baptisms at the Vigil and it has often been the occasion for adult baptisms. So, if you have not spent much time in church during Holy Week, here is the encouragement to make time, at least once, to be there for all the services and to experience the riches of the church's liturgical offerings as Holy Week makes its way from Hosannas to Alleluias.
Saturday vigil services will be in direct competition with the Final Four of March Madness.
Thursday and Good Friday worship services are still
well attended in our portion of the Midwest. It has become
a holy habit for many healthy Christians. Lutherans still
keep the tradition of Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday and
Meditations on Christ's Words from the Cross on Good Friday.
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