Entering the Drama of the Cross
Today is Maundy Thursday and it marks the start of what is known as the Triduum in the church calendar. The Triduum, or “The Three Days,” are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil on Easter Sunday. These three days are the high point in the life of the church as we celebrate and remember the Last Supper, Christ’s death on the cross and God’s raising of Him from the dead. We would not exist as a people without what these three days mark — they are at the very center of the Gospel that makes us.
Beginning this evening, we will follow Jesus into the depths through the drama of the Tenebrae service and its weaving together of readings, light and darkness. In this service, we are brought to a place of recognizing that it is for our sins that Christ was crucified. I was reminded of this truth freshly this week, with the painting below, by Rembrandt, in which the artist included a portrait of himself. We played the part this past Palm Sunday as the crowd, yelling “Crucify him!” with a recognition that, as the song goes, “It was my sin that held him there.” As we acknowledge this truth, we press further into the grace and majesty of Jesus’ death on the cross and find freedom and peace.
That leads us into Good Friday where we mark the reality and magnitude of Jesus, as God, sharing in the suffering of the world. During Friday’s service, members of our community will share reflections upon Jesus’ words from the cross as windows into their own experiences of the world’s brokenness. This service feels so very sacred; as people courageously share so openly, there is blessing for us all as we are reminded of God’s active suffering with us and for us.
All of this, of course, points us to Sunday and the resurrection. On Sunday, we will sing and praise God for His victory over death and His renewal of all things. Easter is a yearly reminder that God is “beyond possibility” as Fleming Rutledge puts it.
As we walk through these next days together, I hope and pray that the richness of God’s love in giving up His son on the cross, the majesty of His power in the resurrection and His nearness in all you face will be made abundantly clear.