Dear Beloved Community:
This week, I want to share with you some thoughts on Holy Week.
April 10 – Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday)
This Sunday begins the holiest time of year for Christians. Holy Week, as a series of special and unique services, dates back to the late 3rd and 4th centuries. Palm Sunday, or more correctly, Passion Sunday begins with the Liturgy of the Palms where we remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with shouts of “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest” and then quickly moves into the telling of the Passion, this year as found in the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus is first brought before Pilate and at the finish will die crying in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” It can produce a kind of spiritual whiplash. Tradition tells us that the reason for the blending of the two was because few people attended Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or the Great Vigil of Easter services, so our spiritual ancestors made sure we would hear most of the story of Jesus’ last days in one sitting. If you would like to know more about Palm Sunday, click on this link below to watch a video made by Trinity Wall Street:
Please click here> Holy Week Explained: Palm Sunday.
April 13 – Holy Wednesday/Tenebrae Service
It isn’t a tradition to hold a Tenebrae service here at St. Gabriel, but I hope it is something many of you will attend. Tenebrae is a Latin word that means “darkness” or “shadows” and one of the more dramatic aspects of the service is that it begins with 15 candles being lit and then slowly being extinguished throughout the service until only one is left burning and the church is left in near darkness. This is to symbolize the apparent victory of evil until at the very end of the service a loud noise is heard symbolizing the earthquake at the time of the resurrection. In between all of this, there is the reading of Psalms, Canticles, and Scripture. It is a truly meditative experience. Trinity Wall Street has produced a video describing the service. It can be found here:
Please click here>Tenebrae Explained: Holy Week in the Shadows
April 14 – Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday begins what is known as the Paschal Triduum, the three great days of Easter. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter is thought of as all one service which is why we leave the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services in silence.
On Maundy Thursday we recall the Passover meal Jesus shared with his disciples, his washing of their feet, and his proclamation of the new commandment which is where the service gets its name from. Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum which means “commandment.”
In John’s gospel, Jesus says, “you also ought to wash one another’s feet,” which we will do. Rather than have me as your priest wash everyone’s feet, we will be washing each other’s feet. I think this is because I, like all of you, are a disciple of Jesus and so I should not assume Jesus’s role (not because I don’t want to be washing a lot of people’s feet!). Here is Trinity Wall Street’s video:
Please click here>Holy Week Explained: Maundy Thursday
April 15 – Good Friday
On Good Friday, we once again experience the Passion of Jesus, this time from the Gospel of John. The altar will be bare, having been stripped the night before. We will pray the Solemn Collects which are divided into five sections that address the five major areas of life that intercessory prayer is designed to address: prayers are said seeking God’s aid for the Christian church, for all the nations of the world, for those sick and in need, for any not yet reached by the missionary efforts of the Church, and for the people who are praying, that they may act holily and live eternally. We will also take time to Venerate the Cross which is offered as a time to use our replica of the Cross as a way to focus our prayer and meditation on Jesus’ Passion. Here is Trinity Wall Street’s video:
Please click here>Holy Week Explained: Good Friday
I hope that many of you will take advantage of the opportunity to attend some if not all of these sacred services. Look for a post later in the week for the meaning of the Great Vigil of Easter and Easter Sunday.
In the peace and love of Christ,
P.S. Don’t forget to be working on your Easter bonnets – everyone! You can use a baseball cap, a beanie, or a cowboy hat if the word bonnet is bothering you. Heck, you can even wear bunny ears!