Holy Week Services 2017
Many people come to Church twice a year: Christmas and Easter. This is understandable, since they represent the two highlights of the church year–the celebrations of the birth and death/resurrection of Jesus. But if most people were forced to choose between them, they would probably go Christmas with its cheerful hymns, cozy traditions, and family vacation time. Yet for Christians nothing could be more cheerful than to commemorate the foundation of our hope: the death and resurrection of Christ.
We do this at Messiah in much the same way that the ancient Christians would have done thousands of years ago. The drama unfolds over the course of Holy Week beginning at Palm Sunday and climaxing at the Easter Vigil.
Palm Sunday of the Passion
When Jesus came into Jerusalem before his arrest, the Bible tells us that people laid palms on the street for him to ride over. This service begins at 10.30am on with a blessing over the palms in the park across the street from the church, which are then handed out so that we can carry them in procession around the church. The service moves quickly from the triumph of Jesus’s entry, when he was greeted as a king, to his betrayal, trial, and death. The sweep of these events challenge our understanding of how our world works and proposes that kingship might not look like we expect.
On Thursday at 6.30 our community will gather to remember the Last Supper that Jesus had with his friends. Like them, we gather for a lush festival meal in the spirit of “Agape” (love). We even endeavor to recreate a feast that Jesus would have recognized with roast lamb, grains, and bread. This is one of the highlights of the community life of our church. When people have finished their supper, we tell the story of that last meal with the celebration of a Eucharist.
On that last night with his friends Jesus taught his disciples about true leadership by washing their feet–the chore of a lowly servant. We follow his example by taking turns washing each other’s feet. Finally, the church is stripped of all ornament and the community departs in silence. Only our youth remain–keeping vigil.
The saddest day of the church year is Good Friday. We will gather at 10.30 am around the cross to tell the story of Christ’s death on a similar cross in Jerusalem. We sing a powerful setting of the story and honor his sacrifice with humble prayers and petitions for the whole world that God loves.
The Easter Vigil
In the darkness a new light is kindled–literally. Having come together at 9pm, our community gathers around the priest in darkness as a flint is struck and kindling lights. By the light of this fire a candle is blessed and lit. Then others are also lit as we tell the story of how God’s promises came true for our ancestors. Jesus was resurrected from the grave. After communion we depart in joy.
Easter Sunday is the sweetest day of the year for Christians as we savor the freedom from death and sin which God has brought us by bringing back Jesus from the dead. Our worship will begin at 10.30 on Easter Morning. We sing songs of thanksgiving and praise and celebrate.