Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve—1 Corinthians 15:1–5.
Paul highlights for us the absolute centrality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without these historic facts in place, there is no good news to preach. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Church has historically placed a great deal of emphasis on commemorating these events in its yearly worship cycle. The traditional nomenclature of “Holy Week” helps bring out the significance to us. To the world around us, the term Holy Week may only appear to refer to the piety of Christians during this time of year; it is only “holy” because people are acting “holy.” In fact, we see that borne out in practice; there are many who give their “due diligence” only at Easter and Christmas.
For the child of God, however, this week gives extraordinary insight into the heart of God himself. It is where we see preeminently his great saving love for his people through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Even the names and places listed in the gospel accounts each bring to mind an amazing weight of significance: upper room, Gethsemane, Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate, crown of thorns, Barabbas, Golgotha, cross, thieves, mother, son, stone, tomb.
In addition to witnessing God’s love for the Church, Holy Week also provides glimpses of that love which existed from all eternity; the blessed communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before all worlds. The gospel of John in particular brings out these nuances. For example, Jesus says in John 10:17, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” Again in John 16:7 Jesus says, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” We see in this something of the “affection” Jesus himself has for the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17:5 we read, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” The Father and the Son share a common glory.
These deep truths provide us with a great opportunity to worship our great God and Savior. The great things of God ought to bring out of us our deepest devotion. Can we hear of Christ’s love for the Father in laying down his life for sinners and not stand in awe? Tenth’s Good Friday and Easter services and concert are intended to give all who attend an opportunity to be reminded of these great realities and to give God the worship he so richly deserves. Please refer to the schedule in other parts of this bulletin for more information.
I want to give a brief word about the Good Friday choral concert on Friday evening. This year the Tenth Choir will present St. John Passion by Bob Chilcott. Typically, a musical “Passion” is quite simply the words of one of the Gospels set to music and intended to be sung in the context of a worship service. St. John Passion contains almost the entirety of John 18 and 19, beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane through the death of Jesus on the cross. As with the well-known Passion settings by J.S. Bach, Mr. Chilcott’s St. John Passion includes not only the scriptural narrative, but also musical meditations intended to personalize the significance of the events, as well as congregational hymn settings that offer an opportunity for worshipful response. The concert will last about an hour.
There is perhaps no greater time of year to invite friends and family members to come and hear for themselves the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Colin Howland. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org