Thursday, 9 April 2015
Holy & Great Thursday Evening
Holy and Great Thursday begins with the Vesperal Divine Liturgy of St Basil, celebrating the Last Supper. In the evening, the service of the Holy Passion of our Lord takes place, with twelve Gospel readings presenting the prophecy of Christ's crucifixion, as well as His prayer and instructions. By processing and venerating our Crucified Lord and Saviour, we celebrate His saving passion and death on the cross, granting us forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation. Furthermore, there is a strong emphasis placed on the penitent thief who is crucified alongside our Lord, inheriting eternal life due to his fervent prayer and repentance. We too kneel humbly before the crucified Christ this evening, realising that through this cross, pain, humiliation, sacrifice and love, comes the certainty of resurrection and the trampling down upon death.
As we process around the church, the priest chants ' Today is hung upon the tree, He Who did hang the land in the midst of the waters. A Crown of thorns crowns Him Who is King of Angels. He is wrapped about with the purple of mockery Who wrapped the Heavens with clouds.'
Just as the thief confessed his sins before Christ on the cross, we are similarly invited by the Church to venerate and kiss the Lord's feet with faith, repentance, love and fear - awaiting His glorious and joyful Resurrection. This evening we are placed within the awesome mystery of the extreme humility of our suffering God - on the one hand faced with the gloom of pain, suffering and death, and on the other hand the Church urges its faithful to await in watchful expectation as we ' see our life lying in the tomb' as Christ lifts us out of our own tombs of distress, death and hopelessness into the light-filled presence of the New Jerusalem!