Below are readings and musical devotions to help guide you through the great events of the coming days. Music is an important part of our life at St. Alban’s Anglican Chapel, and for those of you familiar with the life of our chapel you’ll know it’s not always church music that we sing and reflect on. We’ve selected readings for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Following each reading is song. The song could be by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, or the recently deceased and much loved John Prine. The song might have been selected to focus your thoughts, or just convey a feeling. You can play the song free on Spotify. Following each song is a prayer. Though all the readings are provided here, they are meant to be used at the recommended time.
Maundy Thursday: An Introduction
The Thursday before Good Friday is traditionally called Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin mandatum, which means “command.” On the night before Jesus was crucified, he said to his friends “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, you must love one another” (John 13.34). On this night, in a profound act of humility, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. He also instituted the Lord’s Supper, which is commonly called Holy Communion. The afternoon’s devotion focuses on the first act, the washing of the feet. The evening reading focuses on the second, the institution of the Lord’s Supper.
On the Afternoon of Thursday, April 9th
A Reading from John’s Gospel, ch. 13, vs. 1-17
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
On the Evening of Thursday, April 9th
A reading from Luke’s Gospel, ch. 22, vs. 14-23
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.
Good Friday: An Introduction
Good Friday is the day that Christians observe the passion of Jesus Christ. “Passion” is derived from the Latin passio, which means “suffering.” Why is it called “Good Friday”? In the older English, “good” could also mean “holy,” thus a better name for modern people might be “Holy Friday.” We have selected three devotions for Good Friday, one to be done in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening.
On the Morning of Friday, April 10th
A reading from Matthew ch. 26, vs. 31-35; 47-56; 69-75
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And so said all the disciples.
And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.
Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”
Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.
Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”
But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”
And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”
And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
On the Afternoon of Friday, April 10th
A reading from Matthew’s Gospel, ch 27, vs. 15-26
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.
While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They said, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a [c]tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”
And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
On the Evening of Friday, April 10th
A Reading from Mark’s Gospel, ch. 15, vs. 21-39
A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.
They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Holy Saturday: An Introduction
Though Jesus rested in the tomb on the evening of Good Friday, Holy Saturday is typically the day Christians focus on this aspect of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Why is this important? The famous painting Hans Holbein, The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb shows us a decaying body, with limp limbs and greenish skin. Jesus really did die, as he foretold. Later, reflecting on these events, the Apostle Paul would write: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal 3.13). The curse of breaking the law was death. Though Jesus had never sinned, and thus never broken the law, he endured our curse so that we would not have to fear death. Some traditions focus on the so called “Harrowing of Hell,” where Jesus descends to the Hell and literally breaks the gates of hell wide open, freeing sinners from their punishment. There is no small amount of truth to this tradition, and it’s worthy of long reflection.
Saturday: Any time
A reading from Matthew’s Gospel, ch. 27, vs 57-61
Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
Easter Sunday: An Introduction
Easter Sunday is the day that Christian’s celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, which as the German reformer Martin Luther also noted is a victory over sin, death, hell, and the devil. It is a victory that Jesus alone accomplished, but one that we all may participate in.
On the Morning of Sunday, April 12th
A Reading from Matthew’s Gospel, ch. 27, vs. 57-61
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
On the Afternoon of Sunday, April 12th
A reading from Luke’s Gospel, ch 24, vs. 13-35
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
On the Evening of Sunday, April 12th
A reading from Matthew’s Gospel, ch. 28, vs. 11-20
Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.