Torstai 24.1.2019
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Me saimme katsella hänen kirkkauttaan, kirkkautta, jonka Isä ainoalle Pojalle antaa. Joh. 1:14

Blog: Touching moments of Easter service

in English 30.11.2018 06:01 | Päivämies-verkkolehti

”Now we shall put out Judas’ candle.” One of the twelve candles in front of the altar goes out. I have often been to church on Easter Sunday or Monday. Now I am attending the Maundy Thursday service for the first time in my life.

The story of the Bible proceeds: Judas has now left the group of disciples who are sharing with Jesus the supper that Jesus said they should continue to eat in remembrance of Him even after He has gone into heaven. I follow the service, engrossed and overcome by emotion.

The officiating minister continues: ”Now Jesus leaves with His disciples and goes to the garden of Gethsemane. There Judas betrays Him, and He is taken captive. The other disciples are afraid and escape, leaving Jesus alone. We shall put out the other candles, too.” One by one the candles representing the eleven disciples go out. There is only one candle burning, the one in the middle, higher than the others, the bright light of Christ. I feel a fleeting sensation of fear: what if even that goes out? But no, it remains burning, its flame a constant source of life in the darkness!

The minister begins to read a psalm that describes the suffering of Jesus in Getshemane. How He is whipped and ridiculed, how the soldiers spit on Him, how the high priests argue about the possession of His clothes.

The service is almost over. Members of the choir and some church staff come to the front of the church.  Together they begin to strip the altar. They first take away the two large vases full of flowers and then many other objects, until only the cross is left. They bring a black cloth and cover the whole altar with it.

It is a perturbing sight. Jesus’ suffering is palpable in the church. I look at the people in front of me and seem to sense their sorrow and consternation. Or are those feelings mine? It is impossible not to be touched.

Spellbound, I watch the sexton bring a wreath of dark red roses. He props is against the wall on a small table. The red color symbolizes Jesus’ blood, His innocent suffering. The thorns on the rose stems remind us of the crown of thorns that wounded His head.

”O Sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down.” The last verse of the hymn is sung without accompaniment: even the organ goes silent. The church has been stripped.  Most of the lights have been switched off. The atmosphere is hushed, expectant, almost transfixed.

”Go in peace”, the minister says. The service is over. And he continues the familiar exhortation: ”And serve the Lord with joy!” That salutation is related in a touching way to the message of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Along with the other people I leave the church and step into a crisp March evening. We are surrounded by graves under high banks of snow.

Two days later I am back in church, listening to the light-filled and glad tidings of the Easter service. "Down the heav’nly angel came, swiftly as he wind blows, rolled the heavy stone away – now see the empty grave shows, rolled the heavy stone away – now see the empty grave shows. Sitting there upon the stone joyfully he’s telling: Jesus from the grave arose, He lives, He’s not here dwelling. Jesus from the grave arose, He lives, He’s not here dwelling."

There are two bunches of bright yellow Easter lilies and budding branches of birch on the altar.

The quotes are from the songs 94 and 111 in Songs and Hymns of Zion.
 
Text: Kati Kanto
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen

You will find the original Finnish blog post here.

 

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Mediatilan tähän myy Päivämiehen ilmoitusmyynti.
Ota yhteyttä:
pm.ilmoitukset@srk.fi