THE WISCONSIN BUFFET
Dear Hungry Saints,
Going to a banquet at a local Supper Club means choosing from the various options that are spread before you. Items are offered for nutrition and enjoyment. Return trips to the buffet line for soup, salad, meat and potatoes, and dessert means leaving only after one is full and satisfied. Stories are told of buffet lines that were seemingly endless. The Holy Week offerings in our congregation are like a wonderful buffet. A rich meal of the satisfying food of God’s Word is given for the refreshment of your body and the enjoyment of your soul. Local Supper Clubs offer great food. Here this Holy Week Jesus offers you His Great Supper, the amazing banquet and feasting of His wine and love. Just as in a buffet you may not have room for all the dishes but have to come back another day for more, so too it may not be possible to partake of every one of the services that are offered. That being said, like a good buffet, one might just want to try. Consider the “menu” below.
- On Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, we welcome Jesus into our midst with hymns of great rejoicing. Palm branches adorn the altar as the service begins with the Procession of Palms, the reading of the Palm Sunday Gospel, and the singing of “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.” Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey to shouts of “Hosanna.” The people took off their coats and laid palm branches before Him. We honor Jesus by submitting our lives before Him.
- On Holy Wednesday we partake of a new service, The Scriptural Stations of the Cross. During this service we walk with Jesus as He goes from the Garden of Gethsemane to Golgotha. Along the way we pause to hear the words Jesus speaks along the way. Pieces of artwork adorn the walls of the church and chapel at each of the 14 stations passed. We thank artist Michael D. O’Brien who allowed our congregation to use his artwork free of charge, and the family of Shirley Emley who covered the costs of the printing.
- On Maundy Thursday Jesus spends the last hours of His life with His disciples. He washes their feet with forgiveness, and prepars a banquet for them. The service begins as the congregation confesses their sin corporately then comes forward individually for the announcement of forgiveness. The service continues with the Lord’s Supper and the remembrance of Lord’s institution of it on this very night. The service ends with the Stripping of the Altar. During Jesus’ trial His clothing is stripped from Him. Though Jesus loves us, He was shamefully treated and disgraced.
- The Good Friday Tre Ore Service (pronounced TRAY OAR ay) will be used by us for the first time this year. (“Tre Ore” means “Three Hours” in Latin.) During the Tre Ore Service we wait with Jesus from noon until 3 during the very three hours that He suffered on the cross. The Tre Ore is divided into three separate services. Congregants are invited to stay for all of the three services or come to one or more of them, coming and going as needed. The first service begins at 12 noon with the Liturgy of the Catechumens which includes the reading of the Passion, a guest preacher (Rev. Thomas Fleischmann), and the use of the ancient Good Friday Bidding Prayer. The second service begins at approximately 1:15 p.m. with the Liturgy of Holy Communion. What a better time to receive the Lord’s Supper than on the very day that our Lord poured out His blood for us? The final service, the Order of Vespers, begins at 2:00 p.m. This service includes the singing of Psalm 51, preaching by Pastor Seifferlein, and the singing of the Magnificat. Special features during the Tre Ore also include:
- the ringing of the bell 33 times to mark the earthly life of our Lord
- a responsive reading of the Passion with the congregation, pastor, and our guest preacher.
- the singing of many Lenten hymns as well as one new selection, “Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle”, circa 600 A.D.
- the haunting chant of the Good Friday Reproaches, “What have I done to you, O My people?”
- the procession of the wooden cross as Pastor Seifferlein carries it to the altar
- the reading of Isaiah chapter 53
- On Holy Saturday the church gathers for the Candlelight Easter Vigil to recount God’s dealing with mankind from beginning to end. Worshippers process into a darkened church with candles in their hands. All of the Easter decorations are shrouded in darkness, but the smell of the Easter lilies awakens the senses to the full joy that will be celebrated the following day. Ancient chants are sung, calling to remembrance the time when God’s people of old waited through the night and were delivered. The Easter Vigil is about our baptismal life in Jesus. We call to mind the promises God made to us in our Baptism as we celebrate the anniversary of our baptism into Christ. The church’s catechumens (Taylor Johnson and Winston Meyer) are confirmed and await their first Communion to be received on the day of Jesus’ resurrection. In the midst of this world we wait and pray in eager hope of our Lord’s return. Though we daily experience the darkness of sin and the sorrow of death, Christ is overcoming these things and is bringing new life to us. The word vigil means “to watch.” On this “Easter Watch” we wait in the night hours and prepare our hearts for Easter.
- On the Easter Sunrise Service the church gathers to go to the tomb with the women. As the early morning sky beams with the light of Easter, the Gospel is read, the bells are rung, and the Order of Matins is celebrated. The church rejoices in the message of the angels that Jesus is not dead but is alive. Our resurrection is assured. The ancient hymn of praise called the Te Deum Laudamus (“We Praise You, O God”), used by Christians for over 1,600 years, marks a high point in this service.
- The Easter Day Festive Divine Service is the highpoint not only of Holy Week but of the entire Church Year. The center of this service is the joyous celebration of Holy Communion as Christ our Living Lord feeds us with His body and blood for the forgiveness of all of our sins. The children add to our feast with their singing of the Introit Antiphon and the Hymn of the Day, “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing.” We are released from sin’s grip as Christ bursts forth from the bars of death to deliver to us the message that we are free. He is free from sin and death, and so we are also free from them forever.
Describing a buffet line makes my stomach grumble. After writing these words about Holy Week I am anxious to join you in the buffet line ahead. Served at The Lord’s Supper Club at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Adell, Wisconsin it will be a feast of body and soul to delight and rejoice in. See you in the line and at the table!