Why do we have a calendar as the Church? Why do we have feasts and fasts? Why do we designate some days as Holy (as in Holiday), and others are ordinary? These are living questions because there are some Christians who only begrudgingly celebrate Easter and Christmas. Partially, some of these folk make peace with their observance by seeing these celebrations more as cultural celebrations that allow them to draw people to their worship services rather than days that have been intentionally set aside by the Church.
While we can have fun and silly celebrations as part of our holy days (friendly reminder to bring a favorite bell or noisemaker on Sunday!), there is a deeper purpose to the calendar than simply having fun. The purpose of the Church’s calendar is to teach and convey the Church’s story, which is good news for the world: the story of the unearned gift of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Establishing annual reminders helps us to stay on the story and not get off track.
When we understand that this is the point to the whole Church Calendar, there emerges a hierarchy of days. The “Heart” of the Church’s Year is found in the Great Three Days which are the Thursday of the new Commandment (Maundy Thursday), the Friday of the Crucifixion (Good Friday [“Good Friday” coming from the older name “God’s Friday”]), the Great Sabbath including the vigil of the Resurrection (Holy Saturday), and the Lord’s Day of the Resurrection (Easter Sunday). These Great Three Days are the story of the Christian Pascha, that is to say the Passover of Jesus from Death into Life. (The Great Three Days also go by the name “Paschal Triduum.”)
In our weekly cycle, Sunday becomes the day when we remember the Paschal event (which means Sunday can be a day of sorrow like Good Friday as well as one of joy like Easter Sunday).
Now for comparison’s sake, let us look at another popular Christian festival: Christmas. As a quick disclaimer, I love the feast day and season of Christmas. I thoroughly enjoy the hymns and carols. And yet, Christmas cannot be of the same order as Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. This is because Christmas, while an important part to the Church’s story, is not as explicitly central as the Great Three Days are. If we consider attending worship on Christmas as important, what does that mean for the three days most central to conveying the Church’s story?
Last night we had Maundy Thursday service that went well. Tonight, we will be having our Good Friday service at 7PM. Tomorrow evening at 7PM we will be having a micro-Vigil with microwave s’mores. Sunrise service will be at 6:30AM at the top of Tussey (Jo Hays Vista). Our festival service will be at 10:45AM (remember your celebratory noisemakers!).
God continue to be with you!
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+