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.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!