When Jews celebrate the Passover meal, the youngest child asks the question, “Why does this night differ from all other nights?” Since we will soon celebrate Jesus’ fulfillment of Passover during Holy Week, it is good for us to ask a similar question: “How does this week differ from all other weeks?”
Central celebrates four worship services during Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. All four services link together to tell a single story: the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus for our salvation. These four services, however, are not the same; rather, each highlights a unique aspect of Jesus’ saving work and a distinct aspect of his gifts and calling to us. Therefore, each service will have some special elements that differ from our normal worship services.
On Palm Sunday, we remember Jesus’ final triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the loud praise of large crowds lining his way, and we will also have our own procession of praise with a children’s choir singing and carrying palms. Jesus’ apparent triumph, however, turned to tragedy. Jesus willingly entered into conflict with the leaders who would put him to death in just a few days, and thus we will leave the service praying for the same courage and faithfulness from Jesus with a song about his turn from triumph to death for us.
On Holy Thursday, we commemorate the first Lord’s Supper, which Jesus shared with his disciples when he was preparing them for his imminent death. In the midst of that night of pain and fear, Jesus comforted his disciples by loving them and teaching them to love one another, and we will receive that same love from Jesus in his words from that night and in the Supper that he continues to share with us. After that first Supper, Jesus sang a psalm with his disciples and went to a garden to pray in anguish as he began to be stripped of every comfort, and we will finish the service by praying about our anguish with a psalm and turning our hearts toward the cross as the communion table is stripped bare.
Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ suffering and death as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. In a service of readings and song, we will hear and sing the story of Jesus loving us to the point of death in our place, and we experience the extinguishing of light until we end the service in darkness and silence to contemplate the depths of sin and wrath that Jesus endured for us in love.
Holy Week ends not in tragedy but in the greatest triumph of all, the death of death and sin in the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, this will be our greatest day of praise! We will begin with the sunrise service with a choir at 7:30 a.m. in Forest Park, and then more choir and brass with services of extreme joy and praise at the church at 9:00 and 10:45 a.m.
We hope that you will set aside time for each unique service during Holy Week. As each service links to the next, we can live the story together in a powerful way and experience the love of God afresh in the death and life of our living Lord!