Holy Week and Easter Celebrations

Thorns take the shape of a crown. Popular acclaim turns to public execution. Sorrow and love flow mingled down. Life ends and begins. This coming Holy Week tells a powerful story of change—a story that continues to change the world, and to change people’s lives.

It’s possible to fast-forward to the great celebration of Easter and hear only the story of joy that came on that resurrection morning. But the impact, indeed the change, will be deeper and more powerful if you walk with us through these holy days. Begin with the power of the triumphal entry celebrated this year with the Liturgy of Palms on Palm Sunday. Join the disciples gathered for the last supper on Maundy Thursday and discover something about what it means to serve. Answer for yourself what is “good” about Good Friday. Catch the first rays of hope on Easter Day.

This guide to Holy Week is offered as a way to encourage you to find your own path through these important days. As St John’s continues to grow, we seek rich and moving ways to observe these meaningful days, ways to get in touch with the themes of death and life, sorrow and joy, hope and resurrection.

People find the Holy Week celebrations marked with honesty. They find the measured pace of the week helps them to absorb the intense meaning of the events being celebrated. Life, of course, cannot be put on hold—but this week, above all others, is an invitation to pause and reflect on the gifts of faith and community.

You can simply attend Palm Sunday and Easter, but you are deeply encouraged to make time to enter deeply into the entirety of the liturgy of Holy Week as described below. You may find more than you can ask for or imagine.

Picture:  Alleluia banner painted by the children of the parish

2020 Schedule

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Palm Sunday, April 5th

8:15 a.m. in the Nave - BCP Holy Communion

10:00 a.m. in the Guild Hall - Liturgy of the Palms

Join us in the celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as we process around the church with palms and sing “Hosanna!” Begin the drama of Holy Week as we recount the story of the crowds who welcomed Jesus, only to turn on him a few days later. Both the 10:00 Nave congregation and the 10:00 Open Circle congregation will gather in the Guild Hall for the opening worship, then the Nave congregation will process into the church and each congregation will continue their worship.

Wednesday of Holy Week, April 8th

10:00 a.m. in the Chapel - BCP Holy Communion

Maundy Thursday, April 9th

6:00 p.m. in the Guild Hall - Parish Potluck Supper

7:00 p.m. in the Nave - Washing of Feet and Celebration of Eucharist

The parish gathers in the Guild Hall for a potluck meal (of simple Lenten fare) that resembles the last meal that Jesus shared with his disciples and commemorates the institution of the Eucharist as the central act of Christian worship. Out of respect for the Jewish tradition we do not observe a Seder meal. After the meal, the congregation moves into the church to hear the story of the Last Supper and the giving of the New Commandment to love and serve one another. Anyone who wishes is invited to come forward to have their feet washed as a sign of service. The Holy Eucharist—our weekly memorial of the Last Supper—in celebrated, and then the altars are stripped of their linens and the ornaments of the church are removed, leaving a stark and bare worship space to which we return the next day to continue our observance.

Good Friday, April 10th

10:00 a.m. in the Nave

Liturgy of the Passion of our Lord

Good Friday is the day we commemorate the death of Jesus. We remember his brutal death on the cross, the humiliating punishment favoured by the Romans for seditious and unsavoury criminals. This is the one day of the year that the Holy Eucharist is not celebrated. Instead, an ancient liturgy of penitence is observed, where we confess our sin, confront our guilt for turning from God's desire for our lives to be filled with joy, love, and peace, and prepare ourselves to repent and return to the Lord. There is no organ music at this liturgy—everything is sung without accompaniment, and the simplicity of the voices-only singing brings us into the moment and closer to God. While this liturgy is solemn and penitential, it is still a celebration because we know that through the cross of Jesus our sins are washed away and we are freed from our guilt. Through the outpouring of love of Jesus on the cross we claim our inheritance as children of God.

Holy Saturday, April 11th

There are no liturgies on this day between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The Church waits in silence as Jesus lies in the grave. Parishioners are invited to observe Holy Saturday in quiet prayer and reflection.

Easter Sunday, April 12th

8:15 a.m. in the Nave - BCP Holy Communion

10:00 a.m. in the Nave / 10:00 a.m. in the Guild Hall (Open Circle) - The Resurrection of our Lord

Easter Day is the greatest celebration in the entire year of the Church: the celebration of Jesus' resurrection and, through God's raising up of Jesus, the promise of new life for the Creation. In God all things are made new, and we celebrate this with great joy and happiness on the day of Resurrection. After a long season of Lent with no flowers or alleluias, the church is decorated with bright flowers—a sign of the Resurrection—and "Alleluia!" rings out in joyful praise of our God who raised Jesus from the dead. The 10:00 liturgies begin with the kindling of the New Fire in the memorial garden, from which is lit the Paschal Candle, the sign of the risen Christ. The candle is processed into the church while the ancient Easter proclamation “Exsultet” is chanted. The Gospel of the Resurrection is proclaimed and we celebrate Eucharist together, sharing in the new life of the risen Lord.