Triduum (TRID-oo-um) a Latin term meaning “three days.”
So much of what we know and understand about Easter is shaped by the events of Holy Week. Did you know that we begin worship on Maundy Thursday and that worship continues until the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection at the Vigil of Easter? In the early church, what now takes three days was originally one very long service. On a typical Maundy Thursday we gather for an evening steeped in ritual. During the service, we would have foot-washing which reminds us of the time that Jesus washed his disciple’s feet. We would celebrate Holy Communion. We would conclude the night with the altar being stripped bare. We will be experiencing these days in different ways this year that is both faithful to history but also unique to our current time. This service continues the next day on Good Friday.
Some struggle with the events of Good Friday and as a church we haven’t always been clear about this day either. Laurence Hull Stookey writes this in his book, Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church: “Emphasis has been on the seemingly senseless human suffering of Jesus rather that on the purposeful humiliation of God through which redemption comes. In other words, we have failed once again to read the sacred story backward. Friday has been observed as if Sunday had never come.” The events of Good Friday take place for the “salvation of an otherwise doomed creation.
At Bethesda, we don’t have a Vigil of Easter but this year we will be sharing a Youtube link of a Vigil that has has been recorded from around the United States. It will be an opportunity for many of you to experience a vigil for the first time. In the early church and in some churches today, the Vigil includes the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. In some communities, this is the only time throughout the year that baptism occurs.
Our three days will be different this year. As everything seems different this year. Easter will come and we might feel like those first witnesses who found an empty tomb and weren’t quite sure what to do next. I still believe that our full Easter celebration will come when we can worship together again. In the meantime, we can enter into these days confident that God is with us and God is leading us.