Church of the Resurrection


Ministry: Holy Week

A Peek into Holy Week: Maundy Thursday

March 14, 2018

Maundy Thursday Explained (2018) from Church of the Resurrection on Vimeo.

On Maundy Thursday, we gather for the second service of Holy Week, which marks Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples prior to his arrest by the Jewish leaders. On this night, the apostle John recorded that Jesus washed his disciples' feet and gave his disciples the model for the Eucharist and a "new command" to love each other as Jesus loved them (John 13:34). Maundy is a word derived from the Latin which means "mandate" or "command." 

Jesus takes on the position of a menial slave in the act of foot washing. This would have been unusual behavior for a rabbi at that time—a rabbi should have humility but never give up his station of superior authority. Jesus adorns himself as a slave and washes his disciples' feet in the manner of ancient hospitality. It was custom to wash the feet of one's guests before dinner when they had arrived from a long journey. Normally, disciples would have been the ones serving their master, but Jesus' behavior is different in order to show his disciples how his Kingdom has turned social norms upside down. And, he is preparing them for the greatest dinner of all.

For this is also the night that Jesus institutes the Eucharist, the meal we share as the family of God in remembrance of Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross. That night Jesus and the disciples shared the Passover meal as the first family of the new Kingdom of God; this meal remembers the most important event in Jewish history, the Exodus from Egypt. Many Jews of the first century were waiting for a Messiah who would lead a military and political takeover of Israel and reclaim it from Rome; they envisioned a second Exodus. Bread and wine play a significant role in the Passover meal, and during the Passover meal, there is much unleavened bread and wine consumed. The unleavened bread is called "the bread of affliction" to remind the Israelites of their suffering in Egypt and to remember how they left in such a hurry that there was no time to let the yeast rise before baking. There are five cups of wine integral to the Passover meal. There is varied interpretation, but generally, the first four cups correspond to the four terms God used to describe how he would deliver Israel from Egypt (Exod. 6:6-8)—literally, they are cups of salvation. The fifth cup of wine is left at the place set for Elijah, who it was hoped would return to announce the coming of the Messiah. Jesus connected for his disciples the hope for a second Exodus to the deliverance they would yet experience in his body's death and resurrection.

The church continues these practices today on Maundy Thursday. The foot washing after the reading of the Gospel and the sermon was a common practice by the fourth century AD. During the day, there is a ceremony to bless the holy oils used throughout the year. Finally, this is the last Eucharist meal consecrated until Easter Sunday. The priest consecrates elements for this service and enough bread for reserve Eucharist on Good Friday. Customarily, Maundy Thursday extends into an all-night prayer vigil, commemorating Jesus' request that his disciples stay up praying with him in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest.

The Maundy Thursday service invites us to allow Jesus into our whole lives. Jesus shows his tender love for us through the vulnerability of washing our feet. Jesus washes us of our sin through his broken body and his blood spilled out on the cross through the sacrament of Communion. This service is intensely embodied—we are invited to see, hear, and feel Jesus with us.

In the midst of a worship service it feels both bizarre and startlingly vulnerable to strip off our shoes and socks and place our feet in a basin of water. The foot washing portion of the service forces us to be exposed and vulnerable. It is in that place that we can receive healing and the fullness of the Lord Jesus' love for us.

In the Gospel reading for this service, the disciple Peter is indignant when Jesus asks to wash his feet. Either Peter does not want his Lord to stoop to such a lowly place, or he does not want to show Jesus his dirty feet (or both!). How easy it is to sympathize with Peter in this moment. But instead of appreciating Peter's concern for him, Jesus says, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me" (John 13:8).

Jesus displays his incredible humility and the fullness of his humanity—he is not above us or our bodies. Jesus became one of us, and a servant to us, in order that he might bring us into full relationship with God the Father—that we might share eternal life with him. Jesus' servanthood, seen in the washing of feet, is then fully realized in his death on the cross.

Join us Thursday, 3/29, at 7pm to experience the presence of Jesus at our Maundy Thursday service.

This is Part 3 of our "Peek into Holy Week" series. In the days leading up to Holy Week, we're taking time to prepare our hearts and minds so that we will be ready to hear the voice of the Lord. Read the next post about Stations of the Cross here.

Easter Vigil: Choose Your Own Adventure

March 14, 2018

Whether you’re new to Resurrection or are one of the “old-timers” who remembers when we used to worship in a high school that looked like a castle, you’ve probably noticed something about our church culture: we’re a bit intense. If we’re going to do something, we like to do it right, and this translates into a willingness to tweak and change our systems on a yearly basis. Few things (beyond our basic theological commitments and a deep love of Bishop Stewart’s dancing) are set in stone, and so it is that as a congregant you may notice constant small changes to the way we run our services or ministries.

Case in point: our beloved Easter Vigil. This service has not been static since we outgrew the sanctuary in the high school castle, and as such may leave you a bit confounded. Is it a festival or a vigil? When exactly does is start and end?! Where’s the moment when Steve Williamson sings that one song with the refrain “This is the night,” the heavens open, and a host of angels appear? Or when, out of nowhere, your Bishop shouts his head off and the whole congregation joins him?

Have no fear! This year, we are proud to introduce the “Choose Your Own Adventure: Vigil Edition” guide, featuring a handy “Where’s that Moment?” key at the end of the post. All you have to do is identify which category you fall into, and your Vigil experience will be laid out clearly before you!

Category 1: I’m bringing a guest

First of all, congratulations! You’ve earned 1,000 DMW (Deacon Matt Woodley) Points for inviting someone to join you at Easter Vigil. These points entitle you to lay back and not feel pressured to bring your guest to Every Single Service, as well as being included in Deacon Matt’s cache of Sermon Illustrations: Outreach Edition ©.

Service Recommendations:

  • 1pm or 5pm Vigil: Light & Lessons

    • While these services are identical, the 1pm time is more family-friendly as it allows young children to get home in time for supper.

  • 10am Easter Sunday

    • This service is specifically geared towards guests while keeping all of the elements we love about Easter at Resurrection: dancing, flowers, and exhausted leaders who are running on pure Holy Spirit fueled joy.

Category 1.5: Families with young children

Because children are a little bit like guests who decide they like you so much they’re just going to stay, attend the same services as if you were bringing guests with the slight tweak of swapping out the Easter Sunday 10am service for

  • 6am Sunrise Service

    • This is basically when your kids wake up anyhow, so you might as well embrace it by getting all dressed up and giving them the chance to shout and sing and dance, with no risk of waking up the neighbors!

Category 2: I’m a contemplative

Odds are you’ve already soaked in Maundy Thursday, Stations of the Cross, Confessions, and the Good Friday service, and you’re ready for more. We have just the arc of services for you!

Service Recommendations:

  • 1pm or 5pm Vigil: Light & Lessons

    • This service begins in darkness, allowing you to savor a feeling of aloneness with the Lord despite being in a room packed with people. It then proceeds to lay out deep theological themes both musically and theatrically, giving you fodder for intellectual discussion and contemplation for many weeks.

  • 8pm-5am Vigil: All-Night

    • Sit and savor seven consecutive hours of digging deep into Bible passages accompanied by original music, prayer, and progressively less and less people. By the end, your exhaustion is guaranteed to bring you a depth of insight into Bible passages that is difficult to achieve when well rested… or wait… Is that just you nodding off to sleep and dreaming about the sermon?

  • Highly Recommended Even If It’s Out of Your Comfort Zone: 6am Vigil: Sunrise Service

    • After making it this far, you might as well finish off your Vigil with a joyful noise! Just consider it a very enthusiastic contemplation of the Resurrection.

Category 3: The Enthusiast (aka anyone under 25 or with the stamina of a teenager)

Because you’re the type of person who can’t stand to be left out of any good experience, even a 13-hour long service.

Service Recommendations: ALL OF THEM!

  • 5pm Vigil: Light & Lessons

    • Attending the 5pm service allows you the bragging rights of not leaving the building for the next 15 hours! Just don’t forget to bring snacks, a light blanket, and something to change into for the Sunrise Service, when everyone who was sane will show up after a good night’s sleep dressed in their finest.

  • 8pm-5am Vigil: All-Night

    • Nothing beats that feeling of casually asking someone how they liked that sermon at 1am, and wasn’t the 4am original song beautiful? What? They were sleeping? They REALLY missed out.

  • 6am Vigil: Sunrise Service

    • While this service is wonderful no matter what, there really is nothing like transitioning on no sleep from a peaceful eight hours of preaching and prayer to the energy of the Sunrise Service. The slightly delusional quality of the experience especially enhances your dancing skills… Just ask the Bishop.

  • Bonus: 10am Easter Service

    • While not technically part of the Vigil service, by staying through to this service you ensure your name being written in a special scroll reserved for those crazy enough to live at church for 17 hours straight. This scroll is usually reserved for the staff equivalent of the Marines.

Where’s that Moment? Key

Many of us have favorite moments during the arc of the Easter Vigil, but it can be like a Where’s Waldo puzzle to find it as the services have changed every year. This guide highlights a few of the old favorites, for those of you wanting to ensure you don’t miss out on that one original song we only sing once a year or the baptism of your new godson.