Early Christians made pilgrimage to Jerusalem to walk in the footsteps of Jesus during his last week on Earth. Contemporary Christians around the world use the liturgies of Holy Week to reenact this pilgrimage at home. Beginning on Palm Sunday, you are invited to trace Jesus’ footsteps with us at St. Stephen’s.
Palm Sunday—March 25
This Sunday begins Holy Week in our tradition. We begin our service with a procession of palm branches, a reenactment of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Another part of this service is the reading of the Passion Narrative, a reenactment of Jesus’ last day on Earth. Though these two special elements of our worship are from different times in the last week of Jesus’ life, both of them put us more fully into the story. We become part of the crowd who cheers him on, part of his friends who eat the Last Supper with him, and part of the crowd that turns against him.
Services: 7:45 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. For the 10:30 a.m. service we begin in the garden before processing into the Nave. For earlier services, we gather at the rear of the Nave.
Maundy Thursday—March 29
This evening liturgy, held with Kindred Lutheran, reenacts the Last Supper Jesus had with his friends. We share a meal together with special prayers, imagining Jesus among us. In the Episcopal tradition, this is the one day a year we commemorate the footwashing Jesus instituted after this meal. Maundy is a word from mandate — commandment — because this is the meal that Jesus gave his disciples — and us — his great Commandment: to love one another. After the meal and footwashing, we commemorate Jesus’ arrest and torture with the Stripping of the Altar, in which we carry all the elements of worship out. As we carry things out, we remember that everything was taken from Jesus before his death. We depart in silence. This is our chance to meditate on the night that Jesus was alone. Some of us choose an hour to stay awake in the night to pray, remembering Jesus’ words in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Will you not stay awake with me one hour?”
Dinner: Dinner gathering with Kindred, Pecore Hall, 6 p.m. Service: 7 p.m.
Good Friday—March 30
We enter in silence, because this service is a continuation of the previous night. This liturgy’s focus is Jesus’ crucifixion. A series of prayers, readings, and meditations on the Cross help us remember what Jesus gave up for us, his time of suffering, and how his suffering connects him in solidarity to the suffering of all of us on Earth. We depart this service in silence, looking ahead to the final worship of these three days — Holy Saturday, and the Great Vigil of Easter.
Services: 12 p.m., 7 p.m.
The Great Vigil of Easter—March 31:
This service begins with lighting a new fire, and lighting the Paschal candle from it, and processing into our dark worship space. This reminds us that Jesus, the light of the world, overcame the darkest moment of all, conquered death, and became our salvation. In this service, we chant some of the oldest words in our tradition. A series of readings remind us of our entire salvation story, beginning with Creation and ending with Jesus’ Resurrection. We welcome Easter at this service with a great celebration and feast for Christ, who reigns victorious over the grave. This is the night each year that early Christians would be baptized. It is in this service that we review our entire life in Christ. The movement from darkness to Easter is memorable and holy — we hope you join us.
Service: 8 p.m. (light reception to follow)
Easter Sunday—April 1
Easter morning continues our greatest celebration of the Church year. This service bears the fragrance of lilies, the sounds of beautiful celebratory music, a festal atmosphere in every way. Bring your family and friends to celebrate with us our hope in the Risen Christ!
Services: 7:45 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m.
Easter Breakfast: 9:30 a.m., Pecore Hall
Egg Hunt: 9:45 a.m., Playground