Holy Week 2017 at New Hope Lutheran Church

As we move ever closer to Easter, you may have heard an announcement in church or overheard one of your friends talking about Holy Week.

But what is Holy Week? Why do Christians celebrate it?
And what the heck is a Triduum?!?

In the earliest years of the church, devout Christians would travel to Jerusalem during Passover to reenact—and in some ways, relive—the events of the week leading up to the Resurrection.
This profound act of remembering Christ’s ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection served as a way for the earliest Christian believers to grow in their own faith by recalling the formative and foundational events of their faith.

By retelling the story year after year,
we remember the
why behind the what of our faith.

Holy Week starts with Palm Sunday and goes all the way through Easter Sunday. This is the most important week in the life of a Christian.
And the pinnacle of Holy Week is the Great Three Days of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Rather than three distinct worship services, these separate liturgies are best seen as one large complete worship service over the course of three days. Collectively known as the Triduum (trid-doo-um)—which is Latin for “three days”—these three worship services are the most important worship events in the midst of the most important week in the life of a Christian.

Taken all together, the worship services of Holy Week give us the most complete picture of the fundamental people, places, events, and beliefs of the Christian faith.

You are invited to join us as we journey this holiest of weeks together.
All services are held at New Hope Lutheran Church.


Palm Sunday – Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 8:00am and 10:30ampalm crown

We’ll hear from the Gospel of Matthew and recount Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We’ll begin outside, waving our palm branches and shouting “Hosanna!” as we celebrate the king who rode a donkey rather than a valiant horse, who wore a dusty cloak rather than fine linens, and who would later ascend a cross rather than a throne.
Also known as the Sunday of the Passion, we’ll also hear Matthew’s account of the crucifixion.


Maundy Thursday – Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 7:00pm

Taken from the Latin word for “commandment,” we’ll retell the story of Jesus with his disciples when he washed their feet and gave them a mandatum novum—a new commandment—that we should love one another as Jesus loved us.
We mark the official end of Lent by receiving individual absolution, or forgiveness—the oil marking the cross on our forehead just as the ashes did on Ash Wednesday. We’ll remember the new commandment by having our own feet washed, and we’ll share in the meal that Jesus shared with his friends.
We’ll conclude by stripping the altar, as Jesus would be stripped of his clothes before being handed over to be crucified.


Good Friday – Friday, April 14, 2017 at 7:00pm

Jesus Christ crown of thorns and nailIn this solemn service of fading light, we’ll hear John’s account of Christ’s Passion and ponder the mystery and majesty of the cross. The Passion will also be performed in mime and the service will end with an opportunity to venerate the Cross, showing reverence to this instrument of death that God used to redeem all of humanity and give life to all.


The Great Vigil of Easter – Saturday, April 15, 2017 at 7:00pm

candle vigilIn the early Christian church, they would gather together on the night before major festivals and keep vigil until the morning. While we won’t stay up all night, we will gather together to celebrate this most ancient of Christian festivals. In the early church, the Easter Vigil was the most important worship service of the year.
We’ll gather down at our lakeside chapel where the new fire will be lit and our new Paschal candle will be blessed. We’ll then process into the sanctuary to retell some of our salvation stories, remembering God’s promises throughout the ages to save and redeem us. This will be the first reading of the Resurrection narrative from the Gospel of John, and we’ll shout “Alleluia!” and give thanks for our new life in the risen Christ by sharing in Holy Communion.


Easter Sunday – Sunday, April 16, 2017 at 8:00am and 10:30am

On this glorious day of resurrection, death has been defeated, the grave is empty, and life eternal is promised to all. Our rafters will ring with glorious music and we’ll gather around the table to celebrate the new life given to us through Christ’s Resurrection. We’ll also have breakfast being served in the Community Center to help our youth raise money to attend the National Youth Gathering.


Matters of Posture — Maundy Thursday

* a reflection given at Luther Memorial Church of Chicago on April 2, 2015 *

Text: John 13:1-17, 31b-38


As a kid, my favorite worship service of the whole year was Maundy Thursday. Frankly, in a lot of ways, it still is. See, I’ve always found the whole idea of Communion really, really compelling. In churchy language, we would say that I have a high sacramental theology. Even before I really even knew what was going on, I remember being given a piece of bread and a sip of wine and hearing that there was something that Christ did for me, and that somehow these two things were connected, and I can remember thinking, “What a really strange, and really nice thought.”

As I grew older and began to understand a little more, learned more about Lutheran theology, about the idea of the presence of Christ being “in, with, and under” the bread and wine, was introduced to the idea of communing with Christ in the Eucharist, became aware of the idea that communion feeds us and fills us up so that we are then, in turn, sent out to feed and serve the world, well, I just became more and more enamored with Communion. And for me, growing up, I loved that Maundy Thursday was the day that we focused explicitly on the Last Supper, on the meal that Jesus ate with his disciples.

And it makes me wonder if I was even paying attention.

You may have noticed that our Gospel for today isn’t about the Last Supper itself at all. And it never is. The appointed Gospel for Maundy Thursday in the Lectionary is always this account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Always.

It struck me as curious, and is one of the things that I’ve been thinking on for the past couple of weeks.

But maybe its not that curious… After all, we remember the meal Jesus ate with his disciples every Sunday. We remind ourselves weekly of the saving work of God through the body and blood of Jesus the Christ. We hear every week that God, in Christ, is for us.

And it makes me wonder if we don’t remember our Bible story today often enough. Today, we hear about this humble act of servitude—Jesus humbling himself to show the disciples how they also should be in the world. And we would do well to remember this act and this story of humble service to each other.

Sure, we retell it once a year, and we’ll even get down on our knees and wash each other’s feet in just a minute, but what if we adopted a posture of servanthood in our lives every…single…day?

“Servant leadership” is a phrase that gets used to talk about pastoral ministry quite often. And I’ve been blessed in my life to see this modeled exceptionally well by those people that I consider to be mentors to me. And I can’t think of a better way to describe how I hope to be in the world—the posture I hope to walk with.

Did you know that the ministry staff prays for you? At least every week. We give thanks to God for all the people that God has given into our care. We rejoice with you in your moments of happiness. We are sad with you during your times of distress. It’s not hyperbole to say that we love you. Deeply.

And it calls to mind two short snippets from our reading today. In talking about the disciples, the author of John writes of Jesus, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” And later, right before the mandatum novum—the new commandment that Jesus gives to the disciples—he says, “Little children, I am with you only a little while longer…” Truly these are some of the most beautiful words of scripture.

Jesus really, truly loved these people that gave up everything to follow and learn from him. Jesus was their rabbi and teacher, true, but he cared for them and loved them so deeply. Which is partly what is difficult about Jesus’s words after he washed the disciples’ feet, “I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

And I don’t think Jesus was just talking about washing each other’s feet. We talk a lot about patterning our lives after Jesus, and I think that’s a great thing. But it falls flat if we just think Jesus is a nice example. See, if we’re serious about emulating Jesus, we must not forget what’s coming tomorrow. If we are truly following and striving to be Christ-like to others, or as Luther would say, “being little Christs” in the world, we must be willing to lay down our lives.

We must know that this way of Jesus leads to the cross.

Little children, our feet are about to be washed; we are about to be fed; and then we will be sent out to give up our lives, to serve the world as we have been served.