We're continuing the journey with Jesus that we started on Palm Sunday. The Liturgy of the Palms and our Reading of the Passion on Sunday bracket the stories that we recall on Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. As we make this journey with one another, we will be inspired along the way by Holy Scripture, moving hymnody, anthems and organ chorale preludes.
The journey intensifies with plotting to betray Jesus, Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples, then his arrest at Gethsemane and sham trials before religious and civil authorities, to his agonizing death on Calvary, and then after a day of quiet, the emptiness of his tomb. Death does not have the last word: with Jesus, we reach the new Risen Life to which he invites us all.
On Holy Wednesday, we gather as the darkness increases in Tenebrae, a youth-led service. We recall Judas agreeing to betray Jesus to religious authorities, which gives this day its nickname, "Spy Wednesday." As candles are extinguished, we mark the gathering darkness with sung and spoken psalms and laments. We experience Creation's shock at the coming death of Jesus.
On Maundy Thursday, we recall Jesus' Last Supper with with his disciples; we hear his new commandment (mandaturn in Latin) to love one another with his sacrificial love, and we experience him demonstrating that love by washing his disciples' feet, and giving them (and us) broken bread and poured wine to signify his abiding presence. As the service is ending, Jesus is arrested and led away.
On Good Friday, we have an opportunity to break away from our usual schedule to be with Jesus for the three hours he was on the cross. In the first hour, we hear the story and pray the prayers of Good Friday; and then, for most of the second and third hours (approx 1-2:45 p.m.), our thoughts are guided by organ meditations, prayers and Scripture readings. The third hour concludes with communion in silence, and tolling our Tower bell when Jesus dies. Please feel free to come and go as your schedule permits. The organ meditations are moving preludes to Passion Chorales by Bach, Brahms and Buxtehude; you may find yourself wanting to linger.
There are two additional services on Good Friday:
at 5:15 p.m., a brief Child-Friendly walk through each day of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through Good Friday;
at 7 p.m., the Prayer Book's one-hour Good Friday service, with organ and hymns, also concluding with communion.
On Holy Saturday, while the church is ostensibly quiet, preparations are being made for the following day. March's four Nor'easters left the backyards scattered with twigs; please consider stopping by to help clear the grounds for Sunday's Egg Hunt. Remember to bring your gloves. Coffee and tea will be provided.
On Easter morning, we offer nearly identical services at 8 and 10 a.m., with Choir, hymns and organ, to tell Mark's startling account of what happened when Mary Magdalene and the others returned to the rock garden where Jesus lifeless body had been placed in a stone tomb days before.
Our Easter celebrations will be enriched if you could bring:
a treat to share for the Coffee Hour; and,
if you're coming with children, a basket for each child's Easter Egg hunt
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry celebrated Palm Sunday in Jerusalem this year as part of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and with Christian refugees from Iraq whom he met in Jordan. Their Alleluias to the proclamation of Christ's resurrection inspired him. They inspire me. I commend his video witness to you.
As the Spirit leads us through these holy days, I look forward to sharing the journey with you.
In faith and hope,
p.s. When you are next at 11 Park Street, be sure to check out the crocus and snowdrops which have continued to come into bloom through snow and wind. Since spring flowers are still a week or more away in most of our gardens, we will forgo flowering the Cross this Easter.
Bring your appetite with you Sunday morning when our Sunday School will continue its tradition of raising funds for the children of Haiti: We're all invited to a Pancake Breakfast following the 10 a.m. service. Besides enjoying pancakes, bacon and sausage, oranges and orange juice, and conversation with each other, there'll be a brief video and some slides to introduce St. Luke's School & Church project in Matel, Haiti.
By my count, this is the 8th year our Sunday School children have raised funds during March for a project in Haiti. Again this year, they will be serving a pancake breakfast prepared by Sunday School families and chef Steven Varley. We're in on the ground-floor of an exciting partnership for the children of Matel. There will be a fee-will offering; so, please bring your checkbooks!
"Spring Training" is an annual gathering for fellowship, learning, prayer and fun for Episcopalians from across Connecticut. This year, Spring Training will be offered on Saturday, April 7 from 9 am-4 pm in Meriden. The program for the day begins and ends with prayer, and provides three opportunities to participate in workshops; with over 30 workshops on offer, the challenge is to choose only three! Along the way, there's a beautiful spread of morning refreshments, box lunches, time for conversation with mission leaders, and a bookstore to visit.
After several of us had such positive experiences at Spring Training, it will serve as your Vestry's usual spring workshop. But Spring Training isn't for Vestry Members alone. There are workshops on Christian Formation, communications, community building, pastoral care, social justice and worship, as well as essential parish procedures; some are about one's own spiritual life including discernment, "Paint & Pray," and "3M's of Good Health: Movement, Meditation & Music."
Click Here to learn more and find the links to the workshop booklet and registration form. If you need help with the form, feel free to be in touch with me. The admission charge (now $25) defrays hospitality expenses.
Lent Madness was full of inspiration this week. Tuesday's "competition" between Deaconess Anna Alexander of Georgia and Nurse Edith Cavell of England particularly grabbed me; find it here. Deaconness Alexander persevered in her call to serve the black rural poor of coastal Georgia, believing "anger about how society treated women and African-Americans was a wasted emotion." Instead she "worked to change her community through education and love." Edith Cavell's call to provide nursing care for all those injured during World War I in Belgium put her in the crosshairs of the German army. Accused of "assisting men to the enemy," she was convicted and executed. Her statue in London's Trafalgar Square bears this quotation, "Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone."
Congratulations to our Evening Episcopal Church Women on last Saturday's celebration of their enhancements to the Parish Hall. Not only was the afternoon event a lovely occasion, but the redux for Sunday's coffee hours revealed just how hospitable the space is becoming.
See you on Sunday!
p.s. Seminarian Graham Marsh is still on Berkeley Divinity School's pilgrimage to Canterbury, England. So, his High School group will not meet this Sunday; but will resume on March 25 when Graham will no doubt have his own "... Tales" to tell. In the meantime, high schoolers are encouraged to join their families for the entire 10 a.m. service.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!