I have to say that Holy Week - Palm Sunday to Easter with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday is one of my favorite times of the year.
I spent part of the week with my parents, giving my Mom a break from chemo care and loving on my Dad. I loved it!
A few years ago they took a trip to the Holy Land and my Dad had put together a photo slide show of Holy Week with actual pictures of the locations of the events that happened. We spent Palm Sunday looking at that slide show and reading scripture together since his white count was too low to attend worship (Mom went by herself that day). I loved that time spent with my Dad.
He is actually doing very well, though tired and weak. I loved that too.
Wednesday we had a Seder Meal as part of the learning before First Communion. The children were very attentive and Missy, being the youngest one there, even had a reading part! We decided to make that part of our yearly Holy Week tradition. Yes, we enjoyed it that much.
Thursday night was Maundy Thursday - the Thursday of the Mandate.
The celebration of the Last Supper where Jesus commanded his disciples to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of what he would do on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Our children celebrated First Communion that night.
The Lutheran Church has two sacraments - Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
Both have a command - "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19) and " Do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22) - and both have an earthly element - water for Baptism and grain and grapes for Communion. So this was a huge deal for us.
The children were given handmade communion cups from our Pastor with this saying on the bottom:
Yes, my dears, Jesus died for you. For you.
At the end of the service, the altar is stripped in preparation for Good Friday.
All the candles, the pulpit Bible and Hymn book on their gilded stands and the flowers are removed.
All traces of Communion and it's wares are removed.
The linens are carefully rolled and removed.
The pulpit and lectern have their linens removed.
And the Eternal Flame signifying Christ is placed in the center of the now bare altar.
Ready for the sacrifice of Good Friday.
Most Lutheran churches do this in some form or another but it was the first time our children had seen this. It's a very poignant reminder that this was a sacrifice, just like the sacrifices in the Old Testament.
The sacrifice of a life - the life of God's only Son - in the place of our very own.
Not just something that happened long ago and far away.
Both of our children ended up in tears - deep, sobbing, gut wrenching tears.
They understood the sacrifice that the Lord made so we can have eternal salvation.
The moment that cements their faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We went home, did devotions and put them to bed early. Wrapped in prayers and their faith.
Good Friday evening we reveled in the seven last words of Christ.
The Sanctuary swathed in purple and black.
The dimming of the lights
The extinguishing of the Eternal Flame.
The darkness covering the world.
The silence as we leave the church.
We ate Hot Cross Buns for lunch of Friday.
And colored the Stations of the Cross while reading the scripture that accompanies them.
Saturday we died eggs, pressed linens and dug out the Easter decorations and baskets.
We also kept vigil as they women at the tomb had, waiting for something....
Sunday Morning dawned with anticipation.
Yes, there was the anticipation of the baskets and all their goodies.
Even more, there was the anticipation of what awaited us at worship:
More flowers than you can easily count.
The Sanctuary swathed in white and gold.
The altar dressed in all it's glory - white, and gold and silver with its candles and adornments returned.
Trumpets and Organ.
The "Hallelujah!" returned from where it was buried for Lent.
The tambourines and hand drums added by the children at the end of the service with the closing hymn.
The cries of "Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!"
There was also:
Breakfast with friends.
An early dinner with some of our best friends and their growing family.
Babies to cuddle.
New Easter Dresses - sewn with love by Grandma.
Spring flowers - hyacinth and hydrangea.
Hats and gloves and shiny new shoes.
Super yummy Carrot Cake.
A nap when we got home.
The children proclaiming this "The Best Easter EVER!"
And the knowledge that we are secure in our salvation through the gift of Grace and the sacrifice of our Savior on the cross.
Truly, Holy Week is one of my favorite things!
Soli Deo Gloria.