Everybody got that? Beginning this Sunday, worship starts at 9:30.
But how to get ready for Easter Sunday? In some ways, this is a hard day on which to preach. The day is too large. The story is beyond explanation. We can only respond with awe, wonder, amazement – and probably doubt, as well, for that is how the disciples reacted to what the women told them. And at the end of Matthew’s Gospel in the story of the great commission when Jesus commands his disciples to go and baptize, Matthew tells us that with Jesus standing before them, the disciples worshiped him, “but some doubted.” If you are sometimes unsure about the resurrection of Jesus, you’re in good company.
For me, the way to get ready for Easter is to participate in Holy Thursday and Good Friday services. OK, this is my job. But it’s more than that. The liturgies are different, and that helps me pay attention to them. Thursday’s service begins with an extended liturgy of confession and absolution. This is a time for some honest reflection on the many ways we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. And also, that despite our helplessness, “there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” The Old Testament has quite a few words that get translated as “fear.” This is one is all about awe and wonder. Good preparation for Easter.
The Holy Thursday service will also feature foot washing and the stripping of the altar. Many, many people (including me) are uncomfortable with foot washing. I think that’s part of the point. It’s an intimate act. Intimate does not mean sexual. It means, in this case, uncomfortably close. On this night Jesus calls us to love one another. And that requires us to do uncomfortable things.
The stripping of the altar at the end of this service sets the stage for me for Good Friday. And the service on Good Friday is one of quiet, meditation, and reflection.
And that’s what gets me ready for Easter. How about you?
Pastor Mark Walters