Holy Week - Passion Week
Why Moravians worship the way we do during Holy Week?(Taken from Rev. Craig Atwood's blog)
We Moravians do not have the stations of the cross, like Catholics do. We do not have a passion play like the medievals did. We do not preach on the seven last words the way many Baptists do. We do something unique, which many biblical scholars say is wrong to do. We gather every evening of Holy Week to read out loud from a harmony of the gospels, beginning with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and ending with the burial. This custom dates to the late 1700s.
Some things do get lost in such a harmony of the gospels, some of the differences and nuances get obscured, and we do not claim that the harmony is Scripture. There is no sermon at most of these services during Holy Week. Just readings, and lots of congregational singing. A single hymn verse is sung in response to each selection from the Readings for Holy Week. Sometimes there is simply silence. What happens during this week is that we hear many of the teachings of Jesus in context, rather than spread out randomly through the lectionary.
We spend a great deal of time sitting at the feet of Jesus like Mary listening to the teachings and controversies.
The words and hymns are the same year after year, but the experience is different. Some years I hear the woes to the scribes and hypocrites directed at me. Some years I am Peter whose heart breaks at the crowing of the cock. Some years I am the beloved laying my head on Jesus’ breast. Some years I am Malchus in the garden caught up in things I do not understand and being healed of the violence I’ve participated in. Some years I am Pilate asking cynically about truth. Some years I am one who mocks, and some years I am Magdalene lost in grief.
So many sermons unspoken year after year, so much room for the Spirit to speak through an ancient story. So much to ponder from Palm Sunday to Great Sabbath. And then, we wait in the glooming, before dawn to hear the words “the Lord is risen.” We gather in the cemetery to remember those who have died while we face the rising sun. We confess our faith in the midst of grief, and sing with joy in the midst of pain. We repeat words about redemption and reconciliation and we recommit ourselves to the service of the risen Lord. And then we eat.