2019 is really flying by and so we find ourselves once again about to embark upon the most significant week of the Christian year. Forget Christmas – it’s Holy Week and Easter which really matters, for without the events of these days there would be no Christmas, for it is only in the light of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus that his birth takes on any meaning for us. So it is really good for Christians everywhere to make every effort to attend the services of this very special week.
We begin with Palm Sunday on the 14th when we recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem with the crowds shouting “Hosanna!” and waving their palm branches as they greet the one whom they believe will free them from Roman occupation.
On Monday there will be Stations of the Cross, then Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week we will be having a short service of Compline (Night Prayer) with time for quiet reflection on the events of this week as we hear them in the scripture readings.
On Maundy Thursday there is the Chrism Eucharist in the Cathedral at 11.00am when the holy oils are blessed for the coming year and all the clergy renew our Ordination vows. Anyone is welcome to attend this service. Then in the evening we gather together for a Eucharist as we remember the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples when he set the pattern of service that we are called to follow by washing his disciple’s feet. That meal was followed by his agony and arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, and so our Eucharist will be followed by a time of quiet reflection until midnight as we remember those final hours of Jesus before being taken away for trial. You are welcome to stay for as long or short a time as you wish for the vigil.
Good Friday will begin with a service of Stations of the Cross for children at 10.00am followed by hot cross buns, then from 1.30-3pm we will have the Good Friday Liturgy when we reflect on the immense sacrifice that Jesus made in giving his life for us. As we think on this day about how the crowds who had welcomed Jesus so triumphantly into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday quickly turned against him just a few days later, so we are reminded how quickly we can reject him when other things in our lives seem more important.
On Holy Saturday the Easter Vigil takes place at 8.00pm and begins with the lighting of the Easter fire and the bringing of the new light of Easter into the darkened church before the light is passed through the church as the congregation’s candles are lit. At this service we hear a variety of Bible readings which tell us of God’s saving acts throughout history, before renewing our baptismal vows.
Then, finally, the climax of the week comes on Easter Day as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. As well as our usual morning Eucharist’s there will also be a special Taize Prayer in the evening – a beautiful, quiet, candlelit service
None of these services are single entities – they all stand together as part of the whole story – so it seems strange to me that people will go to church on Easter day but don’t go to other Holy Week services/events. Easter Day wouldn’t be such a happy ending, indeed it wouldn’t mean anything at all, if it hadn’t been preceded by Jesus’ suffering and death. It’s like only ever reading the last page of a book – you’d never get as much out of it than if you’d read the whole book. So this Holy Week why not try to come along to at least one of the mid-week services, particularly on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and make your Easter Day even more meaningful!
Wishing you all a profound Holy Week and a happy and a holy Eastertide!
Holy Week Diary
Today – Palm Sunday
10.00am Sung Eucharist
5.00pm Pizza and a Ponder
6.30pm PCC meeting in hall
6.00pm Stations of the Cross
7.00pm Servers rehearsal for Maundy Thursday
7.00pm Servers rehearsal for Easter Vigil
11.00am Eucharist at Ely Court Care Home
1.30pm Funeral in church
11.00am Chrism Eucharist at the Cathedral
8.00pm Eucharist & Vigil
10.00am Children’s service followed by Hot X Buns
1.30pm Good Friday Liturgy
10am onwards church cleaning – all welcome – please bring duster & polish
8.00pm Easter Vigil
10.00am Festal Eucharist
6.00pm Resurrexit ! Taize Prayer in our church