As we head into the Holy Triduum tomorrow, we have a new resource to help explain it to our children. Michelle Abernathy created this coloring page, focusing on the liturgical highlights of each day.
As we color through the page, we’ll talk about it. Here is something along the lines of what I will say (if you’re interested in learning what we will be doing each day at our church):
Maundy Thursday: On Thursday of Holy Week, Jesus and His disciples shared an ancient special meal called the Passover, remembering how God delivered the Israelite people from slavery and death. On this night, Jesus also shared with his disciples a new special meal: the Eucharist. All those who by faith take in His life — His body and blood in the bread and wine– trust that God also delivers us from slavery and death. At our church, we re-live this every week, but especially as we participate in the Eucharist on this night. This is also when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, showing how much he loved them by being their servant. He commanded all His followers to love each other as He has loved us. After the meal, Jesus went to pray with his disciples. His disciples all fell asleep and left him all alone as He prayed with more sadness than we can understand. Then, his friend, Judas, came and brought those who were to arrest Jesus. In our service, we remember this part of Jesus’s life by the stripping of the altar. Everything beautiful in our church is taken away and hidden. The cross is left all alone, shrouded in black.
Good Friday: On Good Friday, we remember Jesus’s sufferings and death upon the cross. At our stations of the cross service, we walk through the different moments of Christ’s suffering, seeing how much He loved us. For our Tenebrae service at night, we will also read the Scriptures telling us about His death. There will be many candles on the altar, and as the night goes on, each candle will be snuffed out one by one. At the end, when we read that Jesus died, the sanctuary will be very dark. The strepitus will sound — a loud banging cymbal that gets louder and louder. We remember Jesus’s words, “It is finished.” You may feel a little scared, but that is what you are supposed to feel. We remember that not all hope has been lost when the one candle is carried from the back of the sanctuary to sit on the altar. We leave the church in complete silence.
Holy Saturday: We will have spent the day in quietness. In the evening, we will go to church and there will be a fire burning by the doors that lead into the sanctuary. Our priest will light the Paschal Candle from that fire. He will loudly knock on the door and declare, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” A voice inside the church will yell back, “Who is this King of Glory?” Then everyone will rejoice and proclaim, “Even the Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. JESUS CHRIST, VICTOR OVER DEATH. JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, HE IS THE KING OF GLORY.”
At that point, we will come into our church, which is still dark after the blackness of Good Friday. We will follow the Paschal candle, singing “The Light of Christ. Thanks be to God!” When we reach the front of the sanctuary, we will each take our small candles and light it from the Paschal candle, remembering the light we were given at our baptisms. Then, we will listen to the Exultet, a beautiful ancient song that includes the lines:
“This is the night when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!
This is the night when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.”
We will remember the story of God’s mighty works to deliver us through many readings of Scripture. Then, when it is very late, we will keep rejoicing and share in the Eucharist. Lent is over!
On Easter morning, we will come to church and our priest will proclaim, “Alleluia! Christ is risen.” We will all respond, “Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!” When we say “hello” to anyone at our church today, we will say these words. This is the most special day of the whole year. Today, we rejoice that “Christ is risen from the dead: Trampling down death by death, And giving life to those in the tomb!”