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HOLY WEEK

 

Holy Week is to the year what Sunday is to the week.  In particular The Great Three Days (called the Triduum in Latin) are the highlight of the Church’s annual liturgical cycle.  Participation in the rites of Holy Week and Easter are integral to our life as Christians.  Many churches observe only Good Friday and Easter Day and have no observances on Maundy Thursday or the Vigil of Easter.  At the Chapel, despite our small size as a congregation, the rites of Maundy Thursday and the Easter Vigil on Saturday night have been a vital part of our worship life and have helped us to steep ourselves in the various moods and meanings of this most holy of times.  For many Chapel members, in fact, Maundy Thursday is the liturgical highlight of the year!

 

          The meaning of the Christ Event is so rich and so dense that we cannot take it all in at once.  The Church year with its various seasons helps us to focus on this or that aspect of the Christ Event one at a time, so that in the course of a year we see the fullness of the mystery of God’s great love for us.  As we repeat the seasonal cycle year by year, our appreciation of that love deepens.

 

          The aspect of the Christ Event that we call the Incarnation is the focus of our Christmas celebrations.  Even that comes with a four-week period of preparation in Advent.  At Christmas we celebrate God’s condescension and self-emptying to share our humanity with us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, thereby becoming Emmanuel, God with us. 

 

          In Holy Week our focus is on Jesus’ last week of life on earth.  The events of that week are the great climax to the Incarnation and to Jesus’ public ministry of healing and of preaching the Kingdom of God.  This is the time when, more than any other, we focus on the fact that God, out of love for us, freely chose to share with us humans even the experience of mortality.  God in Christ knows what it is to die.  The events of this climactic week are so complex and so imbued with meaning for us that we break them down into parts, focusing on different parts each day.

 

          On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and we also read one of the three Synoptic Gospel (Mark, Matthew, or Luke) narratives of Jesus’ Passion.  On Maundy Thursday we commemorate both Jesus’ Last Supper and also his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

While commemorating the Last Supper we see the links between Easter and Passover, and we draw connections between the Last Supper, the Passover seder, and our weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist.  Good Friday is a

 time for reflecting on Jesus’ death and our own complicity in it, as we read the Passion narrative from John’s Gospel and spend long periods meditating in quiet.  On Saturday night, at the Great Vigil of Easter, we place the Christ Event within the broader context of Salvation History, beginning with the Creation.  Easter Day from start to finish is spent proclaiming our Lord’s Resurrection and celebrating Christ’s gift of resurrection to us.

         

          We cannot be grateful for that which we do not call to mind.  We cannot be grateful for that which we don’t remember.  Our work in Holy Week is an act of grateful remembering, holy remembering.  In each of the days of Holy Week we read and hear about some aspect of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.  Sometimes we act out parts of the story.  Always we steep ourselves in a distinct mood appropriate to the day.  Thereby we participate more fully in the mystery as we engage our minds, our emotions, and even our bodies in celebrating God’s great love for us as manifested in Jesus Christ.  Don’t deny yourselves the beauty of these days!  Join us in the work of holy remembering as we give thanks to God as a community of faith!  Please see the Calendar Page for the schedule of our Holy Week services!

 

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