Forming Faith Blog

A Remembrance of the Three Days (2019)

Maundy Thursday: A Remembrance of Love

Ethiopian art in remembrance of the Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ.

Maundy Thursday is the first day of the traditional Triduum (Latin for Three Days). This holy day remembers the last supper in two ways. The first, (and a little more obscure in some circles) is Jesus giving the command to love and serve one another within the context of washing his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-35). This is where the day gets its name (mandatum= commandment) and where the ritual of foot-washing comes from.

The second, and more common remembrance (at least in the traditions I’ve been a part of) is the institution of Holy Communion/Eucharist/Lord’s Supper. [John does not include this in his Gospel.] This is the focus of Matthew 26:17-30, the reading this week.

Cross+Gen Connections

As a cross+generational worship service, this is an easy movement (or current reality). Foot-washing (or alternately ritual hand-washing) is a tangible act that all ages can, and should, take part in. The act of serving one another in this physical way can be powerfully connectional. Communion is a bit trickier, as most traditions do not permit young children to partake in the ritual. If an alternative can be offered to those not able to take communion, this experience engages touch, hearing, sight, smell, and taste, as well as a personal connection. A beautiful tradition within the Orthodox church is to have a blessed, but not consecrated, loaf of bread that can be shared with even the non-Orthodox.

Another way to include all ages is by using our free activity “What Is Passover?” in our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship resource that uses images or video clips to connect the last supper with the Jewish Passover observance.

Good Friday: A Remembrance of Sorrow

The second day of the Triduum is Good Friday, the remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of the Jewish and Roman authorities. This somber day can only be called “good” because of the love that led our Savior to the cross for our sake and the victory found in the resurrection.

Cross+Gen Connections

This is probably the trickiest of the Three Days to make intentionally cross+generational. That is not because our worship traditions do not use dramatic experiences, but because the suffering and death remembered here might be difficult for our younger disciples to connect with. The physical symbols of the cross, nails, and even crown can communicate the drama, as well as the use of darkness, as in the tradition of the Tenebrae service.

Silence as a form of worship is probably not common in our services, but can be a powerful experience, even for the youngest among us, although we must accept that young children might find it difficult to maintain complete silence for the entire time. Our free activity “The Silence of Death” from Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship encourages this practice, as well as the veneration of a (preferably wooden) cross).

Easter Sunday: A Remembrance of Joy

The final day of the Triduum is the culmination and climax of the entire church year, the foundation of our faith: the resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death. While it is tricky to label Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as celebrations per se, there is really no other way to describe the joyous remembrance of Easter. Rightfully so, we often hear and sing the joyous music (sometimes accompanied by trumpets or the like), smell the lilies, and see the bright colors of church and congregation.

Cross+Gen Connections

In addition to the traditional festivities of your congregation, you can add further cross+generational engagement with a tangible activity like our free resource “God Saves” from Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship. This activity engages our artistic sides with a hands-on comparison of the first Passover with the resurrection, connecting to the “What Is Passover?” activity from Maundy Thursday.

As we approach this most special time of the Christian year, may you experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in love, through sorrow, and to the joy of new life.

In Christ,

-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)

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