Changes are coming to the way Holy Week is celebrated at Presbyterian Church of the Master, Coon Rapids.
Rather than the traditional Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, the church will hold a Maundy Thursday Christian Seder Thursday, March 28 and a Tenebrae service Friday, March 29. The musical traditionally held during the Easter season will not be presented this year.
The Christian Seder March 28 is basically a re-enactment of the Last Supper, according to Rev. John Gay, who became senior pastor at the church this fall.
Instead of the traditional Maundy Thursday service, which includes a lot of readings from the Gospel of John, those gathered will basically participate in a modified Jewish Seder.
“We do a lot of the same things, but the symbolism is different,” Gay said.
The Christian Seder will commemorate the Passover supper that Christ ate with his disciples before he was arrested and condemned to die.
As the service progresses – it will take place in the fellowship hall – symbols will be utilized and explained.
Participants will eat a potluck meal and will drink from four different cups.
The most beautiful part of the Christian Seder, according to Gay, is when participants drink from the cup of praise at the end of the service.
“We’re doing what Jesus did, looking forward to what Jesus will do,” Gay said.
“We’re remembering through all these different senses.”
“It is a family friendly service – in fact, one of the first things we do is to give the children a special blessing! Please plan on coming with a dish to share and an open heart and mind to experience God’s goodness in a special way.”
On Good Friday, the church will host a Tenebrae service to remember the day that Jesus was crucified and died.
Gay said that while this type of service is often held in other denominations, it is not very common in the Presbyterian church.
It will begin with a normal service, although the sanctuary will be dimly lit. Glowing candles – 14 plus the Christ candle – will placed in front of the altar.
During the second half of the service, the story of Jesus’ time from the Last Supper until his death will be read.
Every time a section is read, a candle is put out.
“As Jesus gets closer to death, it gets darker and darker,” Gay said.
At the service’s conclusion, the church is dark and a black cloth is placed over the cross.
Gay said it an extremely moving service.
“You can’t experience the joy of Easter without the darkness of the cross,” he said. “If you go straight from Palm Sunday to Easter, you miss it.”
Presbyterian Church of the Master is located at 789 Northdale Blvd. N.W. For more information, call 763-755-2667 or visit www.pcommn.org.
Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]