March 12, 2018
Transitioning From a Maundy Thursday to a Good Friday Service
“Do this in remembrance of me.”—Luke 22:19
For as many years as I can remember (my family and I have been at Bethlehem since Easter, 1992) Maundy Thursday has been a highly-anticipated and much-beloved worship event in the life of our church. The simple acts of Maundy Thursday—remembering through songs and readings and darkness and silence and Communion—have been a shared, soul-enriching joy for our congregation for generations.
“Maundy Thursday is my favorite service of the year!” has been a comment I have heard annually. So ... in light of that, why are we messing with this beloved tradition? On behalf of my fellow Bethlehem Worship Pastors, Chuck Steddom and Matthew Westerholm, let me say, “We’re glad you asked!”
- Maundy Thursday Services at Bethlehem have traditionally incorporated readings through which we “walk with Jesus” from the Upper Room/Last Supper all the way through his crucifixion and death. It seems more fitting to let the readings and remembrance accord with the calendar events of that first Holy Week including remembering the crucifixion on that first Good Friday.
- We anticipate and plan that the Good Friday Service will incorporate many of the worship elements we have grown to love in the Maundy Thursday Service: readings, singing, darkness, Communion, silence, etc.
- Leaving the Sanctuary in darkened silence on Good Friday may actually heighten our anticipation of a Resurrection morn celebration, as the first rays of the sunshine of invincible gospel hope break upon our souls when Easter dawns.
- In our culture, Good Friday is observed more widely than Maundy Thursday. Many institutions—schools, businesses, etc.—offer full or partial holidays in observance of Good Friday.
- It is likely that an invitation to a “Good Friday Service of Remembrance” extended to a coworker, a neighbor, or a friend might be more convenient and culturally comprehensible than an invitation to a “Maundy Thursday Service.”
- A 7pm Good Friday Service of Remembrance may be generally more convenient for Bethlehem worshipers (especially families) since it's less likely to disrupt school and work routines the following morning.
Will you join us—Downtown, North and South—at 7pm Friday, March 30, for a “Good Friday Service of Remembrance”? And, would you consider inviting a friend to share in the sober joy of remembering with us the life-transforming events that took place that first Holy Week?
Anticipating the joy that is yet to come!