Every year I finish Holy Week and I am so, so, so thankful. I am grateful for a week to remember this story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Every year I ask Jesus to tell me something new about his death and resurrection– give me a new insight into what you have done for me. Every year this week is a gift from Him to me and to us, His people.
And every year people ask, what is so special about Holy Week? Why is it ‘holy’ as opposed to any of the other 51 weeks? Strictly speaking it is not more holy. All of our days are gifts from God, these no more than others. But it is the deliberate act of telling the story that makes these days and these services different. In all earnestness, you do not want to miss a minute of it. And just to whet your appetite, here is what you can expect…
Palm Sunday: We remember the procession into Jerusalem
The service begins outside. Children will be handing out palms. We will read the story and then we will do the story. As we walk in singing a very old hymn (that we only sing once a year) to the accompaniment of tuba and trombone, the children will circle the sanctuary and we will shout hosanna! Hosanna means ‘save us’ and it was the only appropriate thing to say to a King. They had no idea how He would do it. But they sensed that He had what they most deeply needed. After communion, we will sit and remember everything that happened that week. Our shout of ‘Hosanna’ will become a cry of ‘Crucify Him’ and then we will wait.
Maundy Thursday: We remember the Last Supper and the washing of feet
‘Maundy’ is a corruption of the Latin word, mandatum, which means commandment. It is given to this day as a remembrance of Jesus’ instruction after He washed his disciples feet: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another.” Having your feet washed by someone else is never comfortable. But it is such a tangible picture of what Jesus did for us by taking the punishment for our sins. He came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Jesus served his disciples, then He died for His disciples– including you and me. After communion, we will sit and listen to the story of that night. While it is read, the sanctuary will be stripped and draped in black and we will depart into the darkness in silence.
Good Friday: We remember the crucifixion
“Blessed Savior, at this hour you hung upon the cross, stretching out your loving arms…” BCP p. 107 Noonday Prayers The sanctuary will be open from 12-3, the end of the hours over which Jesus was crucified. You will find a large wooden cross laying on the floor alongside hammer and nails. Everyone is invited to sit in silence, to pray, and to confess their sins. You are welcome to write particular sins on the paper and to nail them to the cross. The sanctuary and cross will also be available for silent confession and nailing of sins before the evening service. At 7:30, seven different people from our congregation will reflect on Jesus’ last words from the cross. The setting is dark, the music is somber, the candles go out one by one, the departure is in silence.
The Great Vigil of Easter: We remember the Alleluia
Saturday is a day of waiting and of being still. The service starts late (8:30pm), after dark. It goes long. And it ends in joy. There will be a fire outside on the patio. That is where we gather. As a community, we will tear the pieces of sin-paper off the cross and burn them in the fire. We will light a new candle. We will sing that the light of Christ has broken into darkness. Then we will remember the whole story– what began in beauty and goodness became fallen. But there was always a hope for redemption and making things new. And we are people waiting for the full restoration to come. Then we will baptize new Christians and renew our covenant with God. And then we will shout Alleluia for the first time in a long time. MAKE SURE YOU BRING A BELL!!! And then we will hear the Word of God preached and we will celebrate the first Eucharist of Easter. And then we will have a resurrection party with all the things to which we have said no and all the people with whom we walked this journey of Lent. And then we will sleep!!
Easter Day: We leave on the journey
Easter will be fun, and vibrant, and sad, and full of good-byes. We will have our regular 3 services at 9, 11, and 5 for the last time in this place. We expect that we will also have quite a few guests. We would love for you to be there and for you to bring a friend. If you have anyone in your life who is curious about God or church or Restoration in particular, this is THE MOST logical service to extend an invitation. Your friend is expecting you to!! So why not meet their expectation and shoot ’em that invite. We ‘ll make room on the porch.
Details you need:
- Nursery will be provided on Palm Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Easter. This is for children 2 and under.
- There will be no kids small groups on Easter. We will have worship bags to help them connect to what is happening in the service.
- Our shuttle will run from the parking lot over I-66 for 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after every service during Holy Week. Please use that parking lot, only.
- Most of the services have some element of silence. We will have signs up to guide you. And Saturday has elements of raucous rejoicing– so bring bells and noisemakers and shouts of joy. We’ll tell you when to do it.
See you on Sunday… and all week long.