Today is Palm Sunday, and marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most significant week in the entire church calendar. This week traces the events in the life of Jesus from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, through his trial, death, and resurrection. John’s gospel devotes eight chapters to this week alone. During this week, we hear joyful cries of “Hosanna” turn to angry shouts of “Crucify,” and see the culmination of Jesus’ work as the King of the Jews is nailed to a Roman cross. The entire Lenten season is a time of prayer and fasting in anticipation of the events of this week, and Holy Week calls us to reflect on Christ even more deeply, bringing a greater awareness of the magnitude of what Jesus has done to redeem his people. Even if you haven’t been observing Lent in some way, I encourage you to spend some time this week in reflection and prayer, possibly using a resource like Love to the Uttermost, a free Holy Week devotional at desiringgod.org, or The Final Days of Jesus, by Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor.
One of the ways that we reflect during Holy Week at Living Hope is by gathering on Good Friday for a Tenebrae Service. Tenebrae, which means “darkness” or “shadows,” is an ancient Christian service in which candles are extinguished following the events from the last supper in the upper room through the burial of Jesus. This is a very emotionally heavy service which will include music, video, and scripture readings focused on the suffering and death of Jesus. As the light decreases, there is an increasing sense of dread and sorrow, and as the Christ candle leaves the room, we are left in darkness and silence to contemplate the weight of our sin and the great cost that was paid on our behalf.
This service and the accompanying emotions help us to take these events out of the realm of story, and connect with Jesus at a more human level, giving us even greater joy as we celebrate the reality of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. We invite you to join us this Holy Week at Living Hope as we individually and corporately reflect on the work of Christ, and to gather with us on Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning as we celebrate what God has done for us.
Written by David Lewis, Worship Pastor