We continue Holy Week with our celebration of the Great Three Days, also known as The Paschal Triduum: starting the evening of Maundy Thursday, through the evenings of Good Friday and Easter Eve on Saturday (with the Great Vigil of Easter,) and ending the evening of Easter; all celebrating the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. These days are the heart of our Christian faith and the holiest time of the church year. Each day's observance is an integral part of one service that stretches out over three days; commemorating the Last Supper, Passion and Resurrection of Christ. Our liturgy will engage all our senses - sight, smell, hearing, touch, movement and taste - and will invite us to experience the climatic moments of God's story of love. Those who make a commitment to attend the entire Triduum will find their Easter joy enhanced and their faith deepened.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul.
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to lay aside
his crown for my soul.
Maundy Thursday: April 1st
7:00PM (Please join us for our liturgy in Nale Hall or livestreamed on St. John's Facebook or the recorded service on our website)
"Maundy" is from the Latin term "mandatum", meaning commandment. Jesus gave his disciple a new commandment on the night before he died: to love one another as he loved them. This is the commandment which we particularly focus on when we celebrate Maundy Thursday.
Our evening service is primarily a celebration of the Eucharist, commemorating the first Eucharist (the Last Supper) when Jesus broke the bread, shared the wine, and said, "Do this in remembrance of me". On this holy night, we also observe the Passover of God's people from slavery to freedom, as we hear the Exodus account, hearing it through the lens of our Christian understanding of Jesus as the Passover Lamb of God; and we remember the loving gift Jesus offered his friends when he washed their feet, as we offer the same humble service to one another.
Our Maundy Thursday liturgy will include elements from the Jewish Seder; description of the Seder Plate and the Four Questions asked that night. We will continue with the Liturgy of the Word, a symbolic remembrance of Foot Washing at the Last Supper with the command to serve our neighbors in need, and the celebration of the institution of Holy Eucharist with the blessing of bread and wine. Since this begins the "one liturgy" of the Paschal Triduum, our liturgy of this day has no formal dismissal.
A meditation on Maundy Thursday by Monika Hellwig
Because the Eucharist is first and foremost the celebration of the divine hospitality made present to us in the person of Jesus, it is an action which addresses every form of inhospitality in our world, confronting it with the image of what might be and what ought to be. Jesus, as the outreach of divine hospitality, is not only the primary hospitality of creation but also the redemptive hospitality of healing grace.
At its simplest level of sharing food, the Eucharist signals that in God's world there is room for all. We are therefore challenged to solve the problems of the world by sharing - not by excluding people, not by eliminating people, not by killing. At its other level of symbolism, pointing to the paschal mystery as signaled by the Exodus event, the Eucharist bids us share in promoting and celebrating the liberation of the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized or excluded because these are in a special way the people of God.
Monika Hellwig, The Eucharist and the Hunger of the World, New York: Sheed and Ward, 1992
Good Friday: April 2nd
The heart of the Good Friday observance is from noon to 3 PM, the hours when Jesus hung upon the Cross. The liturgy for Good Friday is solemn yet simple; dramatic yet understated.
12:00PM (Please join us for our liturgy in the courtyard or livestreamed on St. John's Facebook or the recorded service on our website)
The noon service will consists of a sequence of psalms, prayers, and The Stations of the Cross.
7:00PM (Please join us for our liturgy in the courtyard or livestreamed on St. John's Facebook or the recorded service on our website)
We will gather in reflective prayer, with no formal introduction. The evening liturgy begins with the Collect of the Day and the appointed somber readings from Isaiah, the Psalms and Hebrews, culminating in hearing of the Passion according to St. John. The account of the death of Jesus is followed by several minutes of silent reflection and a sermon. We then pray the Solemn Collects, remembering the Church and the world for which Christ died. A cross is brought into the church as a focal point for our meditation, and this year we will virtually venerate and pray before the Cross. We end with the Lord's Prayer and Collect; there is no blessing or dismissal.
You may stay and pray, spending individual time at the cross of Christ.
A meditation for Good Friday by Walter Brueggemann
The last word Jesus speaks on the cross in John's Gospel is, "It is finished." This is not a statement of defeat or resignation. It is rather God's victory. Already on that Friday before Easter Sunday, Jesus declared his victory. His work is done. He has done that for which his life was destined.
The phrase, "It is finished," is a deliberate allusion to God's "finish" three times in the Old Testament. In Genesis 2, after six days of creation when the earth was made fruitful and blessed, "God finished." God overcame chaos and so God rested as the new ruler of creation. In Exodus 40, after Moses has been designing and building the tabernacle for divine presence, Moses could say, "It is finished." He had provided a resting place for God, the new monarch. In Joshua 19, when the land of promise had been carefully distributed among the twelve tribes, Joshua could report that the land settlement was finished. All of these "finishes" report on God's great work.
And now a finish of one more victory on Friday: One more gift to the world. What is now finished is the victory of God's way in the world enacted by Jesus. Jesus has practiced the way of suffering love, of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and generosity. On that Friday, the power of death had done its best yet it could not overcome the power of God in Jesus.
The Friday victory is the defeat of the power of death. The power of death shows up in all the ways that seek to talk us out of our God-given life of well-being. That power shows up in hostility and violence, in pettiness and selfishness, in greed and debilitating anxiety. But it is now robbed of this power because Jesus has prevailed.
The Friday victory is the defeat of the Roman Empire and all empires (including ours) that depend on muscle and militarism. Rome had executed Jesus as an enemy of the state; but it has no power to destroy his love for the world.
The Friday victory is the defeat of all those who thought and think they can compromise and manipulate their way to well-being. The power of death will continue to compete for a while. But, it has lost. It is finished.
For us this means the sting of death is gone. We need not fear being diminished.
It means the power of guilt has evaporated: we need not carry the wound of shame.
It means that we need no longer operate out of fear or loss or defeat.
It means that in God's strange new world coming to us, our fundamental dignity is not in jeopardy: we do not need to crawl to the top of anything.
It means that we are free to get our minds off ourselves and notice that Jesus calls us to care for the neighbor.
Walter Brueggemann, Into Your Hand: Confronting Good Friday, Eugene: Cascade Books, 2014
Holy Saturday - The Great Vigil of Easter: April 3rd
7:00PM (Please join us for our liturgy which will begin in the courtyard and move into the church or livestreamed on St. John's Facebook or the recorded service on our website)
On the night of Holy Saturday, Easter Eve, we will again gather in reflective prayer (vigil) as we light the new fire and Paschal Candle and we hear again the stories of salvation; proclaim Alleluia, hear the New Testament scripture, reaffirm our faith with the Renewal of Baptismal Vows, followed by the Celebration of Holy Eucharist and the receiving of Easter Communion.
There is no service in our tradition more powerful than the Great Vigil of Easter. In our current Book of Common Prayer, the Great Vigil has been recreated and reclaimed from the ancient church where it began in the early centuries when the Easter Vigil was the only time permitted for baptism. This celebration will be a profound experience that will draw you more deeply than ever into the faith of our resurrected Lord.
Sunday of the Resurrection - Easter Day: April 4th
Please join us in the church for our Easter celebration of God's word, reaffirm our faith with the Renewal of Baptismal Vows, Holy Baptism and Celebration of Eucharist with the receiving of Easter Communion.
A meditation for Easter Sunday by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Whatever you believe about how the Resurrection happened isn't all that important. Some people felt that it was a physical resurrection; that the physical body was raised up. Then Paul came on the scene. He had been trained in Greek philosophy and had read a little of Plato and others who believed in the immortality of the soul, and so he tried to synthesize the Greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul with the Hebrew doctrine of resurrection. And he talked about a spiritual body.
Yet whatever view you hold isn't important right now. The important thing is that that Resurrection did occur. The important thing is that the grave was empty. The important thing is the fact that Jesus had given himself to certain eternal truths and eternal principles that nobody could crucify. So all the nails in the world could never pierce his truth. All the crosses of the world could never block this love. All the graves in the world could never bury his goodness.
And so today the Jesus and the God that we worship are inescapable. We can talk this morning about the inescapable Christ. Why? He lives today in society; he lives today in our lives; he lives today in the world. And this is our hope. This is what keeps us going. So you can go out this morning with new hope, new hope for the future. No matter how dark it gets, realize that God ultimately transforms your Good Friday into your Easter, our Easter.
And so this morning, let us not be disillusioned. Let us not lose faith. So often we've been crucified. We've been buried in numerous graves-the grave of economic insecurity, the grave of exploitation, the grave of oppression. We've watched justice trampled over and truth crucified.
But I'm here to tell you this morning: Easter proclaims that it won't be like that all the way. It reminds us that God has a light that can shine amid all of the darkness. And he can bring all the light of day out of the darkness of midnight.
So often we come to those points when it gets dark. It seems that the light of life is out. The sunlight of day moves out of our being and out the rest of our faith. We get disillusioned and confused and give up in despair. But if we will only look around we will discover that God has another light. And when we discover that, we need never walk in darkness. I've seen this so often in my own personal experience. For when it was dark and tragedy around, when it seemed that the light of day had gone out, I got enough strength in my being to turn around only to discover that God had another light.
This would be a tragic universe if God had only the light of day. But I came to see in a way that I'd never seen it before, that God has another light, a light that can guide you and me through the darkness of any midnight. Are you disillusioned on this Easter morning? Are you confused about life? Have you been disappointed? Have your highest dreams and hopes been buried? I say to you: "Don't give up, because God has another light, a resurrection light, and it is the light of Christ that can shine amid the darkness of a thousand midnights."
Martin Luther King, Jr., "Easter Sunday Sermon,"
courtesy of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University
To assure adequate seating, if you plan to attend any of our liturgical services please call the parish office (619) 422-4141