by Jeanine Werner
Another season of Lent will soon be behind us. We are rapidly approaching Holy Week. Does it ever remind you of Christian Bootcamp? Do you ever think, “ I’ve really got to build up my strength to do this thing?” It’s daunting, especially when you think of the services and liturgy for the three days beginning on Maundy Thursday at sunset, continuing through Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and concluding with the Easter Vigil sometime after sunset on Saturday. These three days constitute the Triduum, the traditional days of common prayer, fasting, worship, and expectation as we approach our Savior’s joyous resurrection on Sunday. Why would we even keep such a demanding tradition in our modern times? After all, we’ve got lots of stuff to do.
One word - anamnesis. The church has always taught that through the Holy Spirit’s work within the Church, Christ’s body, we are taken out of ordinary chronological time into God’s kairos time in order to move outside the present to experience the events of our Savior’s life in a real way. Anamnesis constitutes one of God’s mysteries given to his church. Although Jesus existed within history: he lived, died, was buried, rose again during the first Century in Palestine. He did not stay there in the past like other historical persons, however. He did not disappear into the past, but rather lives now holding everything together in life, according to scripture. The mystery of anamnesis allows us to time travel. We are able to be there, to see and experience the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection through God’s Spirit. (Remember the weekly Eucharist where we say “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” ?)
One more word: liturgy We spend a lot of time in Lent trying to become close to our Savior, to know him, communicate with him genuinely and to repent deeply. We pray, fast, give alms, often on our own. But the Triduum, the three Holy Days, make it easy because all those words are said, prayed, and sung together. These words are hundreds of years old; they are deeply used, well-worn, recited in good and bad times and places around the world by people just like us. They evoke scripture. They carry God’s power when the church gathers; we are not on our own. We can rest in them as we recite them with our fellow pilgrims.
Our Triduum liturgy is not just words powered by God, but is filled with action for our bodies to make the symbols real: praying, singing, the Eucharist, foot washing, processions - to the cross and to the altar of repose, stripping the altar, fire, baptisms, remembering. Bishops and clergy lead chanting and singing. How can we explain it all? You just have to be there!
So prepare: physically, mentally and spiritually. Plan to experience Jesus’ sacrifice for us more deeply than ever. Check out your Book of Common Prayer 2019, pp 559-595, to review the plan. Experience the Sacred Triduum at St. James with your brothers and sisters. You will arrive at Easter a different person, singing, “Glory to God, whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” (Eph 3:20)
Image courtesy of Cathedrale de Toulon, France.
Sunday Worship Location
Join us for Sunday worship at 1:30pm at Campus Bible Church. We welcome you in person or on livestream.
222 East Fountain Way
Fresno, CA 93704