Posted by Mo. Lyn on Mar 01, 2016 Comments (0)
Hard to believe but Easter is almost upon us. Easter is the most joyful day of the year for all Christians, the day we celebrate the fact that life does not end with our physical death but, rather, the end of this life brings with it our transition into another dimension of existence. What can be more joyful than to know that and to live life unafraid? There is one way to experience an even deeper joy at Easter. And that is to fully experience the week that precedes it. We call it Holy Week. It has been observed in the Christian church since at least the latter half of the third century. Each church and each Christian tradition has its own way of marking these days leading up to Easter. Emmanuel has some profound and deeply moving ways. So let me take you through the week, one day at a time.
Palm Sunday, March 20th is the Sunday before Easter. It is the day when we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey as the crowds lay palm branches in his path and shouted Hosanna. At Emmanuel the service begins with an outdoor procession around the grounds of the church. Children are given red pennants to wave, adults carry palm branches and the crowd is led by Fr Rob playing guitar while everyone sings hosannas. Such joy! We are then led back into the church for the reading of the passion gospel, the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion, each part read by a parishioner. It ends with everyone in the church shouting “Crucify him!” as we come to grips with our own humanity. This is followed by communion and the comforting reminder that Christ is alive and with us in the Eucharist. Services are at 8:15 am and 10:00 am.
Tuesday, March 22nd at 10:00 am there is a Bible study and communion and another Eucharist will be held at 7:00 am on Wednesday March 23rd.
Maundy Thursday also called Holy Thursday is March 24th. The word Maundy is from the Latin word mandatum meaning command. On the evening of this day at 7:30 pm Emmanuel remembers Jesus’ last meal with his friends before he died. During that time he knelt and washed each of their feet, celebrated the Last Supper with them, and then commanded them to love one another as he had loved them. This is a beautiful, prayerful service when those attending are invited to wash one another’s feet if they wish. Others sit prayerfully during an evening of inspirational music and candlelight. The evening ends with communion.
Good Friday, March 25th is the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and his time on the cross. Services are from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm and from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm. This year the focus will be on the stations of the cross. At Emmanuel, the stations are interactive so that there is an action that one can take at each station. This kinesthetic participation helps one to enter into the last day of Jesus’ earthly life in a more profound way. Fr Rob and Mo. Lyn offer a meditation at each station as well.
On Holy Saturday, March 26th, a service is held after dark. It begins with the lighting of the first fire of Easter out in the back parking lot. The Easter candle is lit from this fire and the whole crowd follows the candle into the church, chanting “The light of Christ, thanks be to God.” This will be followed by an opportunity for the community to renew their baptismal vows, and the celebration of the first Eucharist of Easter. Each participant is given a lighted candle to hold during the service. This results in a beautiful ambience for this time of worship. The service is held at 7:30 pm.
Easter Sunday, although technically not a part of Holy Week, is the most important celebration of the church year. It commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and our freedom from death. At Emmanuel it includes a choral Eucharist, the ringing of bells at the Gloria, and the flowering of the Easter cross. Everyone is encouraged to bring a bell to ring and a flower to participate in the decorating of the cross, which occurs midway through the service. Services are on Sunday March 27th at 8:15 am and 10:00 am. There is an Easter egg hunt outdoors for the children following the 10:00 am service.
Come and experience the entire week with us. This holiest of weeks will lead you to a depth of joy at Easter that you will never forget.