Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017 and continues throughout the week preceding Easter. Over the course of the week we recount the final events of Jesus’ life, his passion, and his death.
Palm Sunday – 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:15 am, & 5:00 pm
The Palm Sunday liturgy begins in the Gathering Space with the blessing of palms. We remember the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, during which the crowd waved palms and sang Hosannas as our Lord passed by. We join the celebration as we process into the church joyfully singing “All glory, laud, and honor.”
In place of our typical gospel reading, roles are assigned to a number of readers who present the passion narrative, recalling Jesus’ final hours and passion. This is why the Book of Common Prayer calls this day The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.
Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week – 7:30 pm
The Holy Eucharist is celebrated at these quiet liturgies and the faithful gather to hear gospel lessons from the final days of Jesus’ life.
Wednesday Taize Eucharist – 7:30 pm
The traditions of Taizé prayer offer a soothing time of prayer, silence, and simple chants. A few words repeated over and over invoke a quiet state of mind and heart open to the presence of God. This contemplative service of chanting and candlelight concludes with the Holy Eucharist.
Maundy Thursday – 7:30 pm
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper. During the meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and so a hallmark of our liturgy is washing one another’s feet. This is a holy and humbling act. The word Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, meaning “mandate” or “commandment” because after washing their feet, Jesus said to his disciples, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
At this liturgy, we also commemorate the institution of the Eucharist because it was at the Last Supper when Jesus took bread and wine, declared it to be his Body and Blood, and gave us another commandment: that we eat and drink it in remembrance of him.
The final part of the liturgy ceremonially remembers Jesus’ betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane. Following the distribution of communion, the remaining Sacrament is moved to the Altar of Repose in the Meditation Chapel. The chapel is filled with plants and candlelight to resemble a garden and parishioners sign up to keep vigil at the Altar of Repose throughout the night. It was there, in the garden, that Jesus implored his disciples to stay awake and keep watch while he prayed through the night. And it was there, in the garden, that Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, arrested, and handed over to the authorities.
Remembering Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, and the fact that he was stripped of his clothing, the altar and entire chancel of the church are stripped of all adornment and embellishment. The lights are gradually dimmed and the altar is ceremonially washed. The congregation departs in darkness and silence.
There is no dismissal because Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday make up the Paschal Triduum and comprise one, ongoing liturgy spread over three days.
Good Friday – 12:00 pm Stations of the Cross, 7:30 pm Good Friday Liturgy
Throughout Good Friday, the stripped altar and church remain stark and bare.
During the noon Stations of the Cross, the congregation moves around the church to the various stations hanging on the walls. Each of the fourteen stations commemorate an event in the final hours of the life of Christ, beginning with “Jesus is condemned to die” and concluding with “Jesus is laid in the tomb.” A brief litany of prayers and petitions are offered at each station.
The 7:30 pm liturgy is marked by significant periods of prayerful silence. The Passion according to John is presented as we remember the crucifixion and death of our Lord. The Solemn Collects follow, during which we offer petitions for the whole state of Christ’s Church and the world. Good Friday is the one day during the year on which bread and wine may not be consecrated. Therefore, the Sacrament consecrated on Maundy Thursday and reserved at the Altar of Repose is brought into the church and distributed to the gathered faithful. Whatever Sacrament that remains is consumed and this marks the only point throughout the entire year that the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not reserved in the church. Again, this service concludes without a dismissal as it is part of the Triduum and a continuation of the liturgy begun on Maundy Thursday.
Holy Saturday – 10:30 am Children’s Prayer Walk, 7:30 pm Easter Vigil
St. Timothy’s Holy Saturday Prayer Walk provides a complete Holy Week experience for young children. The event begins by waving palms and welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem. Children are told the story of the Last Supper during which their feet are washed and bread and grape juice are shared. The story continues with Jesus’ betrayal, trial, and crucifixion. When the children visit the tomb in a darkened basement room, they discover that Jesus is not there and has been raised from the dead. The Prayer Walk concludes by finding the risen Christ and celebrating with the parish’s annual Easter Egg Hunt.
The Great Vigil of Easter concludes the Triduum and is the principle liturgy of the entire liturgical year. The service begins as we kindle new fire in a dark nave. We burn last year’s palms from Palm Sunday along with holy oils left over from the previous year. A new paschal candle is blessed and lit from the new fire. The paschal candle—representing the Light of Christ—is carried forth into the darkened church. Vigil candles are lit from the new fire and fill the otherwise dark church with warm candlelight. A cantor chants the Exultet (from the Latin word for “rejoice”), a beautifully haunting hymn dating from the fourth century that gives thanks to God for this night on which we are led from darkness into light, from death into life. In the darkness, a series of readings recall the history of salvation: Creation, the Flood, Israel’s Deliverance at the Red Sea, and others.
The climax of the liturgy is the first “Alleluia” of the Easter season, when the celebrant declares: “Alleluia! Christ is risen.” The darkened church is suddenly flooded with light, the organ roars, and a Gloria is sung to give thanks to God for the resurrection of our Lord. The service joyfully continues with readings recalling Christ’s victory over death. The Great Vigil is an ideal time for baptisms and the congregation always renews their own baptismal vows. The Asperges (sprinkling) spreads the waters of baptism across the gathered faithful as each person remembers their own baptism. Finally, bread and wine are blessed and the congregation shares Holy Eucharist with God and one another. The service ends with a dismissal as the Great Vigil concludes the Triduum. A festive reception celebrating the end of Lent and the beginning of the Easter season follows the service.
Easter Day – 8:00 am, 9:00 am, & 11:15 am
St. Timothy's celebration of the resurrection continues with a normal Sunday schedule on Easter Day. The congregation gathers to hear the sacred story, sing familiar hymns, and joyfully conclude the Lenten fast.