The week of April 14th through 21st our congregation will walk through Holy Week. This week consists of the celebration of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday. This schedule of services is historically traced back to the late fourth century, when a Spanish pilgrim named Egeria traveled to Jerusalem and observed the various services with which the Christian church there marked Jesus’ passion and resurrection. Egeria wrote of these services in her journal and brought word of them back to her church in Spain. From there, they quickly spread through the Western Church.
These services are a way of us to walk with the Lord Jesus to the cross and out of the empty tomb. It is a liturgical participation in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By taking part in the liturgy, marking the week with special devotion, and hearing and meditating on the Scriptures, our life is formed more and more into the shape of the cross.
Palm Sunday will be celebrated on Sunday, April 14th. The service will start outside of the church doors, where we will gather and then enter the church, thereby participating in Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Once we enter the sanctuary, the service shifts its focus to Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and death. In this way, the whole scope of Holy Week (up to Easter) is laid out before us. At the end of the service, we will each be invited to walk with Jesus.
Maundy Thursday remembers Jesus’ last night with his disciples, in which he celebrated his last meal (the Lord’s Supper) and washed the disciples’ feet. Our church family will gather for a potluck supper on Thursday, April 18th at 5:30pm. Our common meal mirrors that of the disciples. This year, during the meal, we will have an opportunity for our feet to be washed, just as Jesus washed his disciples feet on that last night (see John 13).
Our Maundy Thursday service will take place on Thursday, April 18th at 7pm. This service will focus on that meal of Jesus which we remember every week. The service will serve as an ‘instructed Eucharist’ in which Fr. Brian and Fr. David will explain the significance of each part of the service.
Our Good Friday service will take place on Friday, April 19th at noon. During this service we solemnly remember Jesus’ crucifixion and have a time to venerate the cross. It is a powerful service which confronts us with the reality of Jesus’ death and our need of it, and is filled with the awe and wonder of the heart of God at His great work on the cross.
Additionally, that evening at 7pm we will observe the Stations of the Cross. This service provides an opportunity for us to contemplatively walk along with Jesus as he made his way to the cross.
On Saturday, April 20th at 7:30pm we will hold our Easter Vigil service. The Vigil was the earliest form of Easter celebration for Christians. It is a night of hope and new life. Although we begin in darkness, a new fire is kindled and we gradually enter into the joy of Easter.
Finally, on Sunday, April 21st we celebrate Easter Day, the most joyous day, the fountain of our hope of life now and forevermore. In order to help us all with the festal atmosphere, please bring a bell to ring and flowers with which to decorate the altar. We also encourage you to bring friends and family who may have yet to hear of the Good News which is offered to us through Jesus’ resurrection.
This is a big week. One of our mantras in our Holy Spirit leadership is that we want to do a few things well. We don’t want to clutter peoples’ calendars, because we want all of us to have the space in order to minister where God has placed us in our homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods. However, this week is different, because this is the week which grounds the life we live in Christ and energizes what we do in our contexts. Please take the time, take up the disciples, and participate in this Great Week.