If there is one thing Episcopalians really know how to do (well, besides the usual jokes about knowing the right fork to use) it’s liturgy. Yes, other denominations may do it well, too, but I must admit being partial to our Episcopal way of combining the best of music and poetic language old and new with the deep, ancient traditions and symbols of the church. As a friend of mine once remarked to someone who said, “that was a lovely service this Sunday!”, “It ought to be, we’ve been working on it for 2,000 years”.
And this is never more true than during Holy Week. In one week, we participate in five inspiring, thought-provoking, emotional, and deeply meaningful worship services that together tell the whole story of why we’re here and what we’re all about.
These services are ancient. Egeria, a French nun who travelled to the Holy Land in the year 381, wrote long letters back to her sisters telling all about her participation in the Palm Sunday procession, commemoration of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, and veneration of the cross on Good Friday – all things we still do today, 1,630 years later. The Easter Vigil is the oldest of all, and description of it as a special day for baptism and the first celebration of Easter exist from as the year 200 or so. Our Book of Common Prayer services bring us as close as possible to the practices of the early church.
In Holy Week, we follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We retrace his journey through his last days and listen to what his words and actions teach us about servanthood, friendship, love, sacrifice, death, and hope. As Christians, our faith is centered in the events of Good Friday and Easter, Jesus’s self-sacrificing love, and his triumph over death.
If all this sounds like I’m trying to convince you to participate in our Holy Week services – you’re right! This year we will be live-streaming all the services from the sanctuary at the usual times (7:30 pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, 9:30 am on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday). I know we’ll have a wonderful celebration on Easter Sunday, especially as we will also have Communion distribution on the church lawn after the service. You’ll be able to pick up an Easter flower at the same time! But I often think people are missing out on the really wonderful services of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. Celebrating Holy Week may seem a quaint tradition to many. But it’s not. In the challenges we face in our lives and in our world, we need more than ever to be reminded that for every Good Friday there is an Easter, for every time we struggle and fall, there is a way to get up again, that for every death – of a loved one, of a relationship, of a dream – there is new life waiting for us, through the gift of God in Christ.
Join us and I promise you will find a new and renewed perspective on your faith and your life.
Peace and blessings,