Palm Sunday – 9:30am, Sunday, 4/14
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. The procession with palms, which was already observed in Jerusalem in the fourth century, calls to mind the triumphal entry of Jesus, our Lord and King, into Jerusalem. The procession is fundamentally an act of worship, witness, and devotion to our Lord.
Palm Sunday is unique in having two Gospel readings. Originally there were two distinct liturgies. The palms were blessed and the Triumphal Entry Gospel was read outside of the church building. The door of the church represented the gate through which Jesus entered the city.
The purpose of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem was to fulfill his Father’s will; thus it is fitting that this service continues with the reading of the Passion Gospel in which the whole story of the week is anticipated. The emphasis of the liturgy turns to the days which lie ahead in Holy Week. We who hail Jesus as king one moment, may in the next deny him, even joining with the crowd in shouting, “Crucify him!”
Maundy Thursday – 6:30pm, Thursday, 4/18
Maundy Thursday receives its name from the Latin word mandatum, meaning ‘commandment’, referring to the commandment given by our Lord at the Last Supper: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34). At the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and commanded them to love and serve one another as he had done. At Saint Matthias, we alternate our focus from year to year between the Lord’s example of servant ministry (this year’s emphasis) and his institution of the Holy Eucharist. However, each year the service concludes with the stripping of the altar, symbolizing Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and the betrayal leading to his crucifixion.
Good Friday – 12:00pm, Friday, 4/19
Good Friday is the most solemn of all days on the Church calendar and is appropriately marked in personal devotion by fasting, abstinence, and penitence. The bare, stark appearance of the church serves as a reminder of the solemnity and the sorrow of the day. The Lord of Life was rejected, mocked, scourged, and then put to death on the cross. The liturgy of the service leads us to focus on Jesus and the meaning of his cross. And the faithful are reminded of the role which their own sin played in this suffering and agony, as Christ took all sin upon himself, in obedience to his Father’s will. By the cross we are redeemed, set free from bondage to sin and death. The cross is a sign of God’s never-ending love for us. It is a sign of life, in the midst of death.
The Great Vigil of Easter – 7:30pm, Saturday, 4/20
The Great Vigil, when observed, is the first liturgy of Easter Day, the culmination of the sacred celebration of Holy Week, and the climax of the Christian year. It is celebrated at a convenient time between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter morning.
The service begin in darkness and the liturgy normally consists of four parts:
The Service of Light: a new fire is kindled, and from it the Paschal Candle is lit, symbolizing Christ, the light of the world. The Exsultet, an ancient song of praise, is sung or said as the climax of this part of the liturgy.
The Service of Lessons: key passages from Scripture recount the history of God’s mighty acts and promises. These readings are accompanied by Psalms, Canticles, and prayers.
Holy Baptism is the sacrament through which candidates are united to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-4), which the Church celebrates on this most holy night. When there are no candidates for baptism, the congregation joins in a Renewal of Baptismal Vows.
The Holy Eucharist is the proper culmination of the Easter Liturgy. As we keep this holy feast, we share the joy of our Savior’s triumph and are strengthened by his grace to walk in newness of life.
Resurrection Sunday (Easter) – 9:30am, Sunday, 4/21