The forty days of Lent culminate with the final days before Easter. During this last week of Lent, called “Holy Week,” we walk with Jesus’ disciples as they experience Jesus’ final days before his death. We parade with them, eat with them, flee with them, watch with them, mourn with them. After all this, we celebrate with them on Easter when our Lord was resurrected from the dead. And this celebration on Easter is that much sweeter because we have walked through the darkness that, in the end, does not overcome the light.
The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Sunday, April 9th at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. in the Church
(Note: we are NOT meeting at Mystic River Park before the 10am service)
Our walk begins on Palm Sunday. We lift palms in joyous celebration as Jesus enters Jerusalem humbly on the back of a donkey. We cry out, “Hosanna in the highest heaven.” We are part of the crowd that witnesses the spectacle. We lift our voices in praise. But is this the kind of messiah we have been expecting? Our shouts of praise turn to cries for his blood when the service shifts to the reading of the “Passion Gospel.” We read about Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, and as the crowd, we condemn him. This reading prepares us to hear the good news of the Resurrection on Easter. But if we hear only this reading between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, then we miss the rest of the walk with the disciples.
Living Way of the Cross
Wednesday, April 12th at 7:30 p.m. in the Undercroft
The walk continues on Wednesday. We gather in the Undercroft for a special service of the Way of the Cross. Walk with the teens of the church as they present the fourteen stations in slow moving tableaus set to original music. Catch a glimpse of what the disciples did not see because they ran away. Stay with Jesus and witness his passion.
Maundy Thursday and Prayer Vigil
Potluck Dinner and Service: Thursday, April 13th at 6:00 p.m. in the Undercroft
Prayer Vigil: Overnight Thursday, April 13th starting at 9 p.m. in the Library
Then go back in time a day and sit at table with Jesus in the upper room. On Maundy Thursday, we share a meal and we wash one another’s feet to remember that Jesus commands us to love one another as he loves us. By that others will know that we are his disciples. We move to the church and strip the altar of the vestments to show the starkness of the next few days, the days when Jesus died and was laid in the tomb. We take turns staying up through the night to wait and watch, as Jesus asked his friends to do when he went off to pray.
Good Friday Service
Friday, April 14th at 12 noon in the Church
Then on Good Friday, we watch from afar as Jesus goes to trial. He is condemned. He carries the cross to the site of his execution. We stand there with the women and the disciple whom Jesus loved as our Lord suffers and dies. In our liturgy, we recount once again the Passion Gospel, we pray at the foot of the cross, we sit in silence and contemplate the unbounded love that exists within the sacrifice.
Holy Saturday and the Great Vigil of Easter
Saturday, April 15h at 6 p.m. at Calvary Church, Stonington – TIME CORRECTION!
(They came to us last year, so we are returning the favor this year!)
On Holy Saturday we prepare the church for the joy of Easter. The altar guild gathers for the short liturgy of Holy Saturday before gilding the church with flowers. Then, after the sun goes down, after the next day has begun according to old Jewish custom, we have the first liturgy of Easter, the Great Vigil of Easter. We sing the praises of God in the beautiful words of the “Exsultet,” and we read of God’s movement through the lives of the people of God in the Old Testament. We perform baptisms, welcoming new life into the church and reminding us all that we die and rise with Christ. Then the service shifts and we raise the first “Alleluia!” of Easter. We celebrate the breaking of darkness and death, the repairing of the way between God and people, the resurrecting of Jesus Christ. We run with the disciples to the tomb and see it empty. We rejoice.
The Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day
Sunday, April 16th at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. in the Church
Then on Easter Sunday, we continue to praise God for God’s love made known in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The walk which began a week ago on Palm Sunday is over. We will have moved through Holy Week – through suffering and death – to the life and new hope of Easter. And then a new walk will begin.