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On Palm Sunday we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. Palm Sunday, often referred to as “Passion Sunday,” marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday.
For many churches in the Reformed tradition, Maundy Thursday services may be a fairly recent innovation. We’ve always celebrated Easter together. And most of our churches and communities have gathered to remember Christ’s death on Good Friday. But Maundy Thursday is something new to most of us.
Not so in the wider Christian community. The celebration of Maundy Thursday goes back at least to the fourth century, when pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem are known to have marked the Last Supper and other events of passion week with special services at holy sites. As the idea of such passion week celebrations spread to other areas, various local rites and customs were incorporated into the Maundy Thursday celebration. Doubtless the best-known of these customs is footwashing, an old monastic exercise inspired by Christ’s example in the upper room and associated with the “new commandment” of love recorded in John 14 (hence the familiar name Maundy Thursday, “maundy” being an English corruption, via French, of the Latin mandatum: “commandment”).
Various traditions know the day by different names: Holy Thursday, Great Thursday, Green Thursday. In the Middle Ages Christians officially called the day the “Thursday of the Lord’s Supper,” and this ancient designation is still the most descriptive. The central focus of Maundy Thursday worship has always been the upper room, where Jesus on the night of his arrest, sat at the table with his disciples and instituted a solemn memorial of his new covenant through the broken bread and shared cup of his supper.
taken from www.reformedworship.org
On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10). It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith (Romans 6:5).
Good Friday is “good” because as terrible as that day was, it had to happen for us to receive the joy of Easter. The wrath of God against sin had to be poured out on Jesus, the perfect sacrificial substitute, in order for forgiveness and salvation to be poured out to the nations. Without that awful day of suffering, sorrow, and shed blood at the cross, God could not be both “just and the justifier” of those who trust in Jesus (Romans 3:26). Paradoxically, the day that seemed to be the greatest triumph of evil was actually the deathblow in God’s gloriously good plan to redeem the world from bondage.
The cross is where we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness. Psalms 85:10sings of a day when “righteousness and peace” will “kiss each other.” The cross of Jesus is where that occurred, where God’s demands, his righteousness, coincided with his mercy. We receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin. “For the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday, knowing it led to his resurrection, our salvation, and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace.
taken from http://www.christianity.com/god/jesus-christ/what-s-so-good-about-good-friday.html
All the hopes of Christians are realized in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, making Easter the most celebrative day of the church year. The Easter morning service is a time of joy, celebration, and renewal. In contrast to the somber starkness of Holy Week, on Easter the worship space should be bright and celebratory. Music and songs reflect the full joy of the victorious Christian faith because of Christ’s resurrection.
taken from http://worship.calvin.edu/resources/resource-library/easter-resource-guide