he Great Three Days—sometimes called the Tridium or Pasch—from sunset Maundy Thursday through sunset Easter Day are the climax of Lent (of the whole Christian Year) and a bridge into the Easter Season. These days proclaim the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. During these days, the community journeys with Jesus from the upper room, to the cross, to the tomb, and to the garden. They should be seen as a great unified service beginning with a service Maundy Thursday evening and concluding with the service of Easter Day. These services are connected with a prayer vigil lasting from Good Friday evening until the service of Easter.
On Holy Thursday we remember and celebrate the final supper Jesus shared with his disciples in the context of Passover. This event, which reveals the holiness of all meals eaten in his name, institutes the mystery of his abiding redemptive presence in the church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion. This day is called “Maundy Thursday,” a term derived through Old French mande’ from the Latin mandatum novum, “a new commandment” associated with John 13:34: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
Due to our current physical distancing requirements, we will not be celebrating Holy Communion as part of the Maundy Thursday service. Instead, in keeping with the traditions of the ancient church, we will share in a virtual Passover meal including Jesus' admonition to "...love one another..."
Before participating in the video livestream, please prepare a small pitcher of water for your table, a bowl or basin, and a towel for each participant in your home. Jesus demonstrated his love for the disciples by washing their feet. On Thursday, we will share Jesus love as we wash the hands of those with whom we gather. If you will be alone in your home, please know that, as you wash your own hands, you share in Jesus' love by being clean--for HIM!
A Service of Tenebrae, or “Darkness,” on Good Friday evening is based on a twelfth-century service which is an extended meditation on the passion of Christ. During the service, all light is extinguished to signify that Christ, “the Light of the World,” has been “put out.” Tradition holds that all lights, in the church and in our homes, are to be extinguished until they are relit from the Paschal Candle during the worship service on Easter morning.
Both the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services will be posted on the First UMC Newport YouTube channel and on www.fumcnewport.org by 7:00 p.m. each evening.