This is a synopsis of our Holy Week services, to let people know some of the symbolism of what we will walk through together March 25 through April 1.
We begin Holy Week on Palm Sunday in the circular gathering area in front of the church. We bless and distribute palm fronds. To the sound of All Glory, Laud, and Honor, we process to the sanctuary, and hear the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Holy Eucharist swings from the joy of triumph to the reading of Jesus’ Passion and Death at the end of the service, and we leave in silence. This service takes us through the full range of emotion and the events of Holy Week.
Maundy Thursday is the first day of the Triduum: the three, great holy days. The Maundy Thursday Eucharist, Good Friday liturgy, and the Great Vigil of Easter are really all one service, spread over three days, that grounds us in the mysteries of our faith. On Maundy Thursday 7pm, the focus is on Christ’s institution of the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, the Eucharist, as well as on the self-giving love shown in his washing of the disciples’ feet. The altar and sanctuary are silently stripped of all adornment, in the near dark, to the sound of Psalm 22 being chanted. The altar is washed with consecrated wine and water – remembering the blood and water that poured out of Jesus’ side in the crucifixion. The altar represents the bier of Christ that received his body after his death the next day. We end in silence, with anointing and individual prayers of healing for those who wish at the altar rail.
Good Friday’s noon service includes hymns, prayers, Scripture readings, veneration of the cross and sermon – the official Liturgy of the Church for Good Friday. The 7pm service is the Stations of the Cross around the Fellowship Hall. The latter springs from the ancient practice of making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to walk the Way of the Cross that Jesus walked. As it became increasingly difficult for Christians to do this, the practice began in villages and churches. We stop at each “station” that describes our Lord’s Passion, with Scripture reading, reflection, and prayer. Our beautiful Stations of the Cross posters were loving colored for us by our Warming Center guests last year.
The Great Vigil of Easter begins at dark on Holy Saturday: 8:15pm on the patio. This is the Church’s ancient, first liturgy of Easter Day, full of symbolism and meaning. Outside, we light the New Fire from which the Paschal Candle burns, process into the church and hear salvation history in Scripture and song. Our baptismal vows are renewed and we celebrate the first Holy Eucharist for the Feast of the Resurrection, in a brilliant blaze of light and glory. This is a truly inspiring and mystical liturgy that is received through all the senses.
On Easter Day, we have our two glorious celebrations of Holy Eucharist on the Day of Resurrection – with wonderful music at the 10:45am service. Children of all ages enjoy our traditional Easter Egg hunt and “Easter Bucks” are raised to contribute to charitable causes close to ECA’s heart.
These Easter celebrations are deepened and enriched by our walk with Jesus through Holy Week. The liturgies are designed to speak to participants in deep and meaningful ways through many senses. I encourage you to attend as many of the Holy Week services as you are able – they will make a difference in your Easter morning!