Messiah Lutheran Church Rotating Header Image

Holy Week

Many have expressed appreciation for the liturgies we observe at this most holy time of the Church.  So that you can best be prepared to understand your experience this year, and perhaps share it with guests you invite, the following is offered as an explanation of the days of Holy Week.

Sunday of the Passion
(Palm Sunday)

Christ is revealed as an uncommon Messiah.  The Lord becomes visibly the Suffering Servant of God, first acclaimed at His entry into Jerusalem, shortly to be despised and rejected.  This day of transition ushers in Passiontide, a week full of sorrow, but leading to joyous celebration.

The climax of this holy week is commemorated in the Triduum–the “Great Three Days” preceding Easter, the Festival of the Resurrection.  Easter is most fully appreciated by those who prepare to celebrate it; the liturgies of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Vigil of Easter serve this good and holy purpose.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is named from the Latin mandatum, “command,” recalling the Lord’s words on this night: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another.”  First we experience the completion of our Lenten penitence through absolution for which we have waited since Ash Wednesday.  Then we hear the Good News in Scripture and proclamation, join in prayer, and receive the Lord’s Supper, recalling that night in the upper room and His instruction, “Do this when you remember Me.”

Unique to this liturgy is our singing of the penitent thief’s prayer, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” As Jesus on this night went from a peaceful gathering with His disciples to the turmoil of arrest and indignity, so we move from the liturgy’s comfort to the somber remembrance of His mistreatment as we witness the stripping of the altar and hear the words of Psalm 22.  In the power of this liturgy we depart in silence.

Good Friday

We gather to honor our Lord’s crucifixion with a simple liturgy, The Passion and Death of our Lord, recalling the events of that Day in Scripture and song.  We also participate in veneration of the Cross, the instrument of disgrace and death transformed by the power of God into the symbol of victory for His Son and for all who believe.  At the last, the Cross speaks for itself and worshippers are free to stay in prayer or depart in silence.

 The Vigil of Easter

We gather this night no longer in sorrow but in profound anticipation of the victory feast we know is near.  Perhaps more than any liturgy, the Vigil of Easter conveys sacred meaning through visual symbolism.  It is also one of the church’s most ancient liturgies.

The Vigil is composed of four parts: the Service of Light, the Service of Readings, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, and the Celebration of Holy Communion.  Here at Messiah, we reserve the fourth part of the Vigil for the Easter liturgy, “The Festival of the Resurrection.” We anticipate that fourth part at the end of the evening’s liturgy, when the Presiding Minister and Confirmands who have just Affirmed their Baptism prepare the altar for the Easter Eucharist.

The Vigil begins in utter darkness, recalling Christ in the tomb, His followers in despair.  The kindled light recalls the moment of Creation, the instant of Resurrection, and the dawn of a new Day through Jesus, the Light of the World.  The Paschal Candle, symbol of Christ, re-enters the gathering of the people, revitalizing life and hope.

The Light of Christ is processed with reverence, as though Christ Himself is coming among us, and the gathered people acclaim its presence with “Thanks be to God!” The Exsultet, sung by a worship leader with both reverence and transcendent, rapturous wonder, recalls salvation, rejoices in the glorious events of this night, and praises the Light, miraculous both in the visible candle and the risen Christ: for the mystery of candlelight is that it can be endlessly divided, but always burns with undiminished brightness.  Just so is the saving love of Christ and the power of the Gospel, endlessly shared but always undiminished.

As the Exsultet unfolds in the ears, heart and minds of those present, the Light spreads among the people, a participatory reminder of our inclusion in the divine miracle of salvation.

The Service of Lessons recalls many of the saving acts of God for the sake of His people, accompanied by prayers and hymns.

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism is celebrated when Baptismal candidates are present; in any case, Confirmands who have completed their program of instruction Affirm their Baptism at the Vigil.  This also reflects the practice of the ancient Church, which on this night admitted converts to full participation in the community of faith in time to celebrate the Festival of the Resurrection.  The newly Confirmed perform their first act of service to Christ in preparing the altar for the celebration of His Resurrection, and the people depart with thanksgiving, to rest before resuming the celebration on Easter morning.

 Holy Week Schedule for 2024

Sunday, March 24, The Sunday of the Passion
9 AM – Living in Faith Education Hour
10:30 AM – The Liturgy of Holy Communion with the Blessing of Palms and a dramatic reading of the Passion according to St. Mark

Maundy Thursday, March 28
7 PM – The Liturgy of the Last Supper with the Stripping of the Altar

Good Friday, March 29
7 PM – The Passion and Death of Our Lord

Sunday, March 31, The Resurrection of Our Lord
8:30 AM – Easter breakfast
10:30 AM – The Liturgy of Holy Communion
(No Living in Faith Education Hour today.)

close window

Service Times & Directions

Weekend Masses in English

Saturday Morning: 8:00 am

Saturday Vigil: 4:30 pm

Sunday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:45 am,
12:30 pm, 5:30 pm

Weekend Masses In Español

Saturday Vigil: 6:15pm

Sunday: 9:00am, 7:15pm

Weekday Morning Masses

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 8:30 am

6654 Main Street
Wonderland, AK 45202
(513) 555-7856