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HOLY WEEK AT ST. PHILIP’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

 

Palm Sunday Sunday, March 24th, 10:00 AM

 

The full name given in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer for this day is The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday. Many thought that the Messiah, the Savior, would be both a political and religious king who would reclaim the nation of Israel as in the days of King David. Some hoped that Jesus would rise up and be that king. A week before his resurrection Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem as crowds spread palm branches and carpets across his path and exclaimed, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:8-11) Our liturgy dramatizes this story as we bless palms and process into the church with them while singing loud hosannas. However, after joyful singing, during the same Mass we soon hear the account of Jesus’ Passion, his suffering. This service will have us experience several emotions from joy and excitement to fear, disappointment, and anger.

 

Maundy Thursday Thursday, March 28th, 6:00 PM

 

The name ’Maundy’ is derived from the Latin name of the feast, Dies Mandatum, meaning ’the day of the new commandment.’ At the Last Supper on the night before Jesus is betrayed, he establishes the rite of Communion and commands his followers to repeat this act in remembrance of him. Maundy Thursday also commemorates Jesus washing the feet of his disciples as a sign of servanthood and humility and as a display of his leadership as a servant, not a political king. The Eucharist will be celebrated and includes several elements unique to this day. The first is foot washing. Following the sermon, the clergy washes the feet of members of the congregation, in imitation of our Lord’s service to his disciples. All are welcome to come forward. After the Eucharist of Maundy Thursday, the Blessed Sacrament will be carried from the High Altar to the Altar of Repose. The final action of the evening is the stripping of the Altar in preparation for Good Friday. The Blessed Sacrament remains on the Altar of Repose until the afternoon of Good Friday. Remembering our Lord’s question to his disciples in Gethsemane, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” a watch is kept before the Sacrament.

 

Good Friday Friday, March 29th, 12 PM

 

The origin for the title ’Good’ is unclear. Some say that it originates from the German Gottes Frietag (God’s Friday) or Gute Frietag. This day commemorates the crucifixion of Christ. Many churches mark the day with devotional services between noon and 3PM—the hours of the Passion. In the Episcopal tradition, the Eucharist is not celebrated on Good Friday, but Holy Communion may be offered from the reserved Sacrament. This is a day of fasting, penitence, and devotions before the cross. The Liturgy includes the reading of the Passion according to St. John and the Solemn Collects, a particularly ancient form of the Prayers of the People, during which the Church remembers before God the world for which his Son died. Following the Solemn Collects, an unveiled Crucifix/Cross is carried into the Church. The congregation is invited to come forward to venerate the Cross. A genuflection or a solemn bow may be made on approaching the cross (this may be done three times). The last element in the Liturgy of Good Friday is Communion from the Reserved Sacrament which is brought from the Altar of Repose.

 

The Great Vigil of Easter Saturday, March 30th, 6:00 PM

 

The Easter Vigil service is determined by the sunset, since it needs to be dark before one begins a vigil in anticipation of the next day. This is an ancient liturgy that celebrates the Resurrection of Christ. The Paschal Candle is prepared and lit from the new fire and carried to its stand in the front of the Chapel. A deacon, or someone appointed, sings the Exsultet, the ancient hymn which rejoices in the gift of the light of creation and redemption. Then, in the lessons from Scripture, we remember the mighty acts of God in creating and redeeming His people. These lessons are read in the light of the Paschal Candle to represent their fulfillment in the life of Christ. The Easter Vigil is the premier occasion for Baptism in the Church. There will be an opportunity for all to renew our baptismal vows and be sprinkled with newly blessed water as a sign of our participation in the new creation. The veils will have been removed from the crosses and the Altar vested in preparation for this service. However, the church remains in darkness until the Celebrant issues the Easter proclamation. “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” At that point, the lights come on; the church bells will ring, and everyone in the church is invited to ring bells which they have brought! (BYOB-Bring Your Own Bells!) This service continues with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist—the climax of Holy Week and the principal feast of the Christian Year. After Mass, all are invited for the first toast of Easter. This will be the first service since the beginning of Lent that flowers are on and around the altar. May God richly bless us as we enter this time of remembrance and contemplation of the Passion and Resurrection of our Savior!

 

Resurrection Sunday: Easter Day Sunday, March 31st, 10:00 AM

 

Resurrection Sunday joyfully celebrates and proclaims the Easter morning Resurrection of Jesus Christ wherein God raised His Son from the dead on the third day after His unjust crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary. According to the Gospel of John (20:1-18) “early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb” thus privileging her with being the very first witness to the miraculous, world changing event of Jesus’ rising. It was according to her word, the word of this woman, that all of humankind learned of and rejoiced over this most blessed event. The English term Easter is linked to the Jewish name for Passover or “paschal” and according to the Gospels both the crucifixion and the resurrection took place during the week of the Jewish Passover. According to scripture, Jesus was the first born from the dead to share in the Kingdom of God. Following His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples, breathed on them His Holy Spirit, and called them to the Great Commission of forgiving sin and baptizing repenters. He also appeared to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. During those days, He ascended into heaven and according to the Nicene Creed, “sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end.” Jesus sacrificed His life for our redemption, suffering an unjust death on the cross, and by His glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of evil, the power of our enemies, from the grip of injustice, violence and hate. The rising of Jesus is the central mystery and foundation of our Christian faith, our inspiration, and the guarantee that we will be raised to life eternal with God. This is the source of our Hope as Easter People, who trust that in Jesus's death and resurrection "death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:54) Finally, the Easter Sunday service is characterized by feelings of great joy and exultation, the singing of uplifting and triumphant hymns such as “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” and “Oh, Happy Day” as well as the prioritizing of children who joyfully anticipate the Easter Egg Hunt following the Sunday service

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