I was a little taken aback this week as I went to choose hymns for Easter Sunday and came to discover that the national church’s hymnal resource was suggesting all sorts of Maundy Thursday/Good Friday hymns for Easter Sunday. You may be asking, “What’s the difference?” or “Why does this matter?”
Easter Sunday should be about the resurrection, not torture, crucifixion, and death. Unfortunately, many churches do not take the time to experience the darkness of Holy Week during the week with a Maundy Thursday or Good Friday service. When they skip those services, Easter becomes a dark and dreary recount of the passion and they end up singing songs like, “In Dark Gethsemane.”
On the other hand, there are many churches that skip the dark stuff, have a joyous palm parade and then celebrate an empty tomb with no explanation of how we got there. This is just as bad as making Easter dark and dreary.
The fact is we need that dark and dreary stuff—just not on Easter Sunday. It is so important for us to experience the whole story and understand how awful and brutal the end of Christ’s life was. It reminds us that no matter what awful, dark and brutal stuff we may be going through, Christ has gone through it as well, and will be there to go through it with us. The promise that lies on the other side of Good Friday is resurrection and new life. The promise that lies on the other side of our most painful times is resurrection and new life.
That is why I think the service tonight—Maundy Thursday is so important. We see the betrayal, abuse, torture and death, so that we can know the soaring joy of the resurrection message on Easter. I hope to see you all there at 6 for soup, communion, Hand/foot washing, and a service of darkness. In my experience, this tends to be one of the most meaningful services of the entire year.