This coming Sunday (March 13) is the 5th Sunday in Lent which marks the beginning of the season of Passiontide (the final two weeks of Lent), in which the Passion of our Lord intensifies. Therefore, the Lenten fast also intensifies which we can observe in our worship setting. The sights and sounds in God’s house are muted even more. For the past number of weeks, our celebration has been muted in the following ways:
> There is no Alleluia in the Verse of the Day.
> We do not sing the Gloria in Excelsis after the Absolution.
> There are no flowers on the altar.
Starting now, you will note these additional practices.
> The Gloria Patri (Glory be to the Father) is omitted from the Psalms
> All artwork or icons have been removed or veiled.
> The ringing of the church bell ceases.
> All music is muted except for the support of congregational singing.
Our services will practically be barren of celebration, but that is the point. We are fasting. We are penitent. We are intently focusing on the sufferings and death of Jesus. Ceremony and celebration will return with vigor on Easter Sunday when we rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord which declares that sins are forgiven and that death is destroyed.