Altar of Repose

The Altar of Repose is where parishioners keep vigil in silent prayer, recalling our Lord’s anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane and his frustration with his sleepy disciples: “What? Could you not watch one hour with me?” The vigil, or watch, begins after the Maundy Thursday service and lasts until sunrise the following day.

Before COVID, the Altar Guild would bring in dozens of potted flowers and create a “garden” in the library space just off of the sanctuary. Dozens of candles would be placed all around and kneelers would be placed facing the garden. After the Maundy Thursday service, the acolytes and the rector would walk the veiled cross from the altar and the veiled ciborium (the vessel containing the sacrament) into the garden. After that, the watch began. Parishioners would take shifts keeping watch in the garden, with Jesus, in the way that his disciples were not able to. While at the watch, people prayed or read.

 This year, like last year, we’ve put together a slide show on our website of pictures of Altars of Repose Past so that you can keep watch from home, no schlepping up to the church at 3am, required.