He, whom Isaiah proclaimed to be the Lamb, comes to His voluntary slaughter. He gives His back to whips and His cheeks to blows. He turns not away His face from the shame of spitting. He is sentenced to a shameful death. The sinless One willingly accepts it all, so that He might grant to all the resurrection from the dead.
~ Sticheron from the Vesperal Liturgy
Today, He who suspended the earth in the waters is suspended on a cross. The King of the Angels wears a crown of thorns. He who wraps the sky in clouds is wrapped in a fake purple robe. He who freed Adam in the Jordan accepts to be slapped. The Bridegroom of the Church is fixed with nails to the cross. The Son of the Virgin is pierced with a spear. We worship Your Passion, O Christ. Show us also Your glorious Resurrection.
~ Hymn from the 15th Antiphon of Orthros
Dear Beloved in Christ,
Today we commemorate the Mystical Supper, when Jesus gave to His disciples the great gift of His own Body and Blood, thus instituting the sacrament of the Eucharist in the Church. At the morning Vesperal Liturgy we will sing hymns that recall the upper room, where Jesus celebrated the Passover with the disciples.
During the Liturgy two Lambs will be consecrated. (The “Lamb” is the center portion of the prosphora loaf, which becomes the Body of Christ, Who is the Passover Lamb.) One Lamb will be for those who are communing that morning. The other Lamb will be set aside and fractured into small pieces, which are placed into the tabernacle (the gold container at the center of the altar), and used throughout the year for bringing communion to those in need.
Tonight is the Twelve Gospels Service, which is the Orthros of Holy Friday. (Since all the services of Holy Week are moved half a day earlier, this service takes place on Thursday night.) At this service we will read numerous chapters from all four of the Gospels, pertaining to our Lord’s betrayal, trial, mocking, scourging, and crucifying. After the fourth Gospel we will process around the church with the Stavroménon, the icon of Christ on the cross, and will place it in the center of the solea.
May our compassionate and long-suffering God strengthen us for the remaining days!