Palm Sunday & Holy Week 2020
In this the love of God was made manifest among us,
that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
- 1 John 4:9-10 (ESV)
Advent is the beginning of the Christian year. Holy Week is the heart of the Christian year.
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, which in 2020 is April 5th. It concludes, by ancient counting of time, at sundown on Holy Saturday with the first Evening Prayer or, better still, with the Great Vigil of Easter in the later night hours of Saturday night (as we call it now).
The climax of Holy Week is the Triduum, the great three days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Why do we include four days for the three days of the Paschal Triduum? Because we, as moderns, count time differently.
Maundy Thursday is a celebration that happens on the evening of Thursday. Ancients counted time from sundown to sundown. So from an ancient perspective, after sundown on Maundy Thursday is Friday.
So Holy Week culminates in four events over three days if we count sundown to sundown.
The four events are the institution of the Christian Eucharist (Maundy Thursday), Jesus' suffering and death (Good Friday), his repose in the tomb (Holy Saturday), and his glorious Resurrection (Resurrection Sunday).
Easter Sunday, April 12th, is the Great Day of the Resurrection. Resurrection Day begins the Easter Season. Easter is a season unto itself, the Great Fifty Days. It concludes with the Feast of Pentecost, which is May 31st.
The fifty-day season of Easter opens with the octave (eight days) of Easter week, Sunday through Sunday. These eight days are celebrated in worship as one long day, the Day of the Lord. It's helpful, here, to remember that ancient Jewish feasts lasted days on end. They weren't simply an afternoon or evening event.
This summary of Christian year and Holy Week are part an invitation. Here is the invitation.
You are invited to walk with Jesus through two overlapping eight-day cycles. The overlapping day is Easter Sunday. Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday is the first eight days. Easter Sunday through the Second Sunday of Easter is the second set of eight days. These overlapping cycles teach us that Jesus, by his victorious death and victorious resurrection (both are victories!), completes and fulfills the old covenant. At the same time he inaugurates the new.
During these fifteen days, walk with Jesus through Scripture, prayer, silence, and song. Exercise your spirit in worship and receive Jesus' love into the wellsprings of your soul.
But we must remember, the first crown the our King wore was a crown of thorns. So, this Holy Week and Triduum, come behold the wondrous mystery.
(Click on the links below to read Sunday's passages)
First Reading: Isaiah 52:13–53:12
Psalm 22:1-11 (text from 2019 BCP below)
Second Reading: Philippians 2:5-11
Passion Gospel: Matthew 26:36–27:66
22 Deus, Deus meus
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, *
and are so far from my cry, and from the words of my complaint?
2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not hear;*
in the night season also, but I find no rest. 3 But you remain holy, * enthroned upon the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers hoped in you; * they trusted in you, and you delivered them. 5 They called upon you, and were delivered; * they put their trust in you, and were not confounded. 6 But as for me,I am a worm,and no man,*
scorned by all, and the outcast of the people. 7 All those who see me laugh me to scorn; * they curl their lips, and shake their heads, saying,
8 “He trusted in God, that he would deliver him; *
let him deliver him, if he will have him.” 9 But you are he that took me out of my mother’s womb; * you were my hope, when I was yet upon my mother’s breasts. 10 I have been cast upon you ever since I was born; *
you are my God, even from my mother’s womb. 11 O go not far from me, for trouble is near at hand, *
and there is none to help me.