​Holy Week at St. John's

Published by Kate Wesch on Thu, Apr 4, 2019 2:21 PM
Rector's Reflections

Palm Sunday, April 14, Holy Eucharist with the Liturgy of the Palms at 8:00 & 10:15 a.m.

The Liturgy for the Sunday of the Passion, or Palm Sunday, is the beginning of Holy Week. The service is about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as King of kings and Lord of lords. The crowds go wild! Their messiah has arrived. Yet Jesus knows that the messiah they laud is the one they will kill. This day takes us to a mountaintop before we descend into the depths of Holy Week. The journey of this week is one of spiritual transformation; beginning with Jesus at the top of the Mount of Olives and then heading down into Jerusalem to the cross. 

Holy Wednesday, April 17,

Stations of the Cross at 6:30 p.m.

The devotion known as the Stations of the Cross is an adaptation to local usage of a custom widely observed by pilgrims to Jerusalem: the offering of prayer at a series of places in that city traditionally associated with our Lord’s passion and death. 

The number of stations, which at first varied widely, finally became fixed at 14. Of these, eight are based directly on events recorded in the Gospels. The remaining six (numbers 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 13) are based on inferences from the Gospel account or from pious legend.

In this innovative and adaptive version of the liturgy; elements of art and music are blended to create a unique experience of Jesus' passion. You don't want to miss this opportunity to experience prayer, live-painting, stringed instruments, and candlelight woven together into a blend of story and emotion as we prepare to walk the final days into Jesus' death and resurrection. 

The Triduum

Act One: Maundy Thursday, April 18

Scene One: Agape Meal from 5:30-6:15 p.m. in the Narthex

The Agape Feast dates to apostolic times and is a simple light meal of bread, cheese, olives, and fruit. Parishioners are asked to bring food, red wine, or grape juice (no dessert, please) to share as a testament of our Christian love for each other. This is a meaningful activity for all ages. You may sign up to bring food here.

Scene Two: Maundy Thursday Liturgy at 6:30 p.m. in the Church

This service recalls the Last Supper of Jesus on the night of his betrayal. It focuses on two major themes: Holy Hospitality and the Institution of the Eucharist.

Holy Hospitality: The Foot‑Washing

Coming from the Latin Mandatum Novum, or “New Commandment,” maundy refers to the commandment Jesus gave to his disciples: “Love one another as I have loved you.” At this service, Christ’s commandment is enacted by the Foot-Washing. After an invitation from the Presider, you may come forward to have your feet washed by the clergy. We encourage you to take part in this beautiful ritual. 

The Institution of the Eucharist

After the Foot-Washing, we proceed with the celebration of the Eucharist. Every Sunday, we hear the Words of Institution during the Eucharistic Prayer. They begin: “On the night he was handed over to death and suffering, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread….” The familiar words take on a poignant urgency and reorient us to the central mystery of our faith.

The Stripping of the Altar

The service concludes with the stripping of the altar as an act of preparation for Good Friday. One way to deepen our understanding of the symbolism of this moment is to meditate on the following verse from Psalm 22: “They divide my garments among them; they cast lots for my clothing.”

Scene Three: Watchnight from 8:00 p.m. until noon the following day in the Prayer Room

During the night on Thursday, a watch is kept before the consecrated bread on the Altar of Repose in the Prayer Room. The consecrated bread is felt to be the real presence of Christ, and so we keep vigil with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on the last night before he is handed over to be crucified. The tradition comes from the question Jesus asked his disciples Peter, James, and John, who kept falling asleep as Jesus prayed in agony awaiting his arrest: “Can’t you keep watch with me even one hour?” So, we keep watch, praying through the night.

At 8:00 pm, we will read the Gospel of Mark out loud. All are welcome to join in the communal reading.

A sign-up sheet to cover all hours for Watchnight may be found in the back of the Church. It is also fine to just show up.

The Triduum

Act Two: Good Friday, April 19

Scene One: Fasting

The Book of Common Prayerappoints Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as days of fasting. 

On Ash Wednesday we fast in imitation of Jesus’ fast of 40 days in the wilderness. On Good Friday, we fast in thanksgiving for his crucifixion. 

This thanksgiving is best expressed by the Fraction Anthem we sing throughout Lent:

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. 

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. 

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace. 

Traditionally, a strict fast such as the Good Friday fast entails eating nothing for the majority of the day and having a simple meal sometime after one has been to church for the Good Friday Liturgy. Some choose to begin the fast after the Agape Meal the night before. If you have medical issues, you should not fast.

Interactive Stations of the Cross for Children and Families, April 19, 5:00 p.m.

Praying the Stations of the Cross is an ancient tradition remembering Mary’s retracing of her son’s last steps along what became known as the Via Dolorosa(the Sorrowful Way) on His way to the Crucifixion at Calvary in Jerusalem. Children of all ages and their families are invited to walk the path of Jesus in His last hours. There will be fourteen interactive stations that will invite participants to reflect and pray through sensory experience. We will end our time together eating the traditional Anglican Good Friday fare, hot cross buns. Children of all ages are welcome.

Scene Two: Good Friday Liturgy, April 19, 6:30 p.m. in the Church

This Liturgy marks Christ’s crucifixion, but it is not a funeral. Instead, the focus is on extolling the glory of the Cross, through which all creation has been redeemed.

The Church is bare and the ministers enter in silence. The Liturgy of the Word concludes with the reading of the Passion according to John. The sermon and the Solemn Collects follow. In praying the Solemn Collects, we pray on behalf of the entire world, for which Christ died.

After the Solemn Collects, a heavy wooden cross is brought in and positioned on the Chancel steps. Time is allowed for worshipers to come forward and venerate the cross by kneeling before it, touching it, standing next to it, even kissing it.

During the Veneration of the Cross, we sing The Reproaches. Christ, in the words of The Reproaches, rebukes us. We are to understand these rebukes as directed to all humanity, and that we all, through our sins, are brought to the judgment of the cross, and are there forgiven and saved by Christ. In response to the saving power of the Cross, we conclude the Veneration by singing the ancient hymn Pange lingua(Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle).

The service concludes with a brief communion taken from the bread consecrated the night before at the Maundy Thursday service.

Scene Three: Sacrament of Reconciliation

In the Church after the Good Friday Liturgy with The Rev. Kate Wesch

Private and confidential, this sacrament is a healing way to end the Lenten season for any who wish to be restored to God because their relationship with God has been broken by sin.

When preparing for confession, reflect on events from the past week, month, year or even longer. 

Ask: 

•What are the things I have done of which I am ashamed?

•Where have I fallen short?

•What have I left undone that I should have done?

•Of what in my life do I need to ask for God’s forgiveness?

Then, spend some time in conversation with God, making a “five-finger” apology.

•I am sorry for…

•That was wrong because…

•Next time I will…

•What can I do to help? (or How can I make this right?)

•Will you forgive me?

For those unfamiliar with the service, the rite may be found beginning at page 446 in The Book of Common Prayer.

Holy Saturday Liturgy, April 20

12:00 p.m. in the Church

Holy Saturday falls between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It commemorates the day when Jesus Christ lay in the tomb after his death. At noon, people gather for a short, simple service of prayers and readings. There is no Eucharist and no music. In the midst of Easter preparations, all pause to pray and remember this day.

The Triduum

Act Three: The Great Vigil of Easter, April 20, 8:00 p.m. beginning in the Churchyard 

Elaborate and dramatic, this service utilizes all the senses as we recount salvation history and revel in the saving power of God’s great mercy. There will be incense at this service.

The liturgy intended as the first (and arguably, the primary) celebration of Easter is also known as the Great Vigil. The service begins in darkness and consists of four parts: The Service of Light (kindling of new fire, lighting the Paschalcandle, the Exsultet);The Service of Lessons (readings from the Hebrew Scriptures interspersed with canticles, and prayers); Christian Initiation (Holy Baptism) or the Renewal of Baptismal Vows; and the Eucharist. Through this liturgy, the church recovers an ancient practice of keeping the Easter feast.

You are also encouraged to bring bells of all kinds to ring out with joy at the Easter proclamation this night!

There will be a festive reception in the Narthex following this service. You may sign up to bring refreshments here.

The Sunday of the Resurrection: April 21

Easter Day: 8:00 and 10:15 a.m.

Holy Week concludes with the greatest feast of the Christian year, the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. With unbridled festivity, we pull out all the stops in our liturgy and music.

Join us for a Potluck Brunch from 9:00-10:00 a.m. in the Parish Hall

Join the community between Easter services to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with food! Bring a hot breakfast dish (like quiche or strata) fruit salad, or a beverage to share on Easter morning. Contact the Parish Office or sign up here to let us know what you plan to bring.

Easter Egg Hunt 

The SJB Easter Egg Hunt for children of all ages begins after the 10:15 a.m. service. Separate parts of the campus will be assigned to different age groups in the spirit of fun and fairness.