Dearly Beloved,

Lent is nearly complete. Only 8 days left before the great celebration of the completion of our Christian Passover, Easter Day, the day of Resurrection! Holy Week begins tomorrow on Palm Sunday and so much is in store for us as we work our way through the week. It has been asked, “Why do we make such a big deal about Holy Week?” It is the events we commemorate in Holy Week that lead to the culmination of God’s great work of Salvation, the overcoming of Death by Life, in the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is the short answer. I have included a much longer explanation below. Please read on and see the incredible mystery we will bring to remembrance this week. I encourage all of you to be present as the mystery unfolds, especially on the Sacred Three Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve. I guarantee that fully participating in Holy Week will make your Easter Day absolutely amazing.
 
Parish Hall is Done!
Last Saturday, the carpet was laid in the expanded parish hall and the place looks absolutely fabulous! If you haven’t been here since then, I have included some pictures here. The completion of the parish hall expansion essentially finishes our building program here at the church. There are few little items that need to be accomplished yet and, of course, the bells have yet to arrive. I would like to say thanks all of you who jumped in and helped finish our work. It is amazing what our parish has been able to accomplish in the past year.

Holy Week and Easter
The schedule for the entire 8 days coming up is right below. Please look it over and be sure to be here as often as possible. All the faithful are expected to be in church on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and, of course, Easter Day.
 
Annual Easter Dinner
It is our tradition to have an Easter Dinner after our 11:00 a.m. celebration of the Holy Communion on Easter Day. There is a sign-up sheet on the bulletin board. See what we need, sign-up, and then show up!
 
Annual Parish Easter Egg Hunt
Be sure to line up your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and any child in your life, and bring them to church early on Easter Sunday morning. The annual egg hunt begins at 10:00. Come see who finds the golden egg!
 
Annual Lenten Appeal
 If you are not using mite boxes for this year’s Lenten Appeal, please prayerfully consider making a donation to this very important cause. “Lenten Appeal” should be noted on the “memo” line of your check. Our goal is to have 100% participation in this year’s Lenten Appeal. Thank you very much and please see the insert about the Lenten Appeal for this year. Reminder: All mite boxes should be returned next Sunday on Easter Day.
 
New Parish Directory
Deaconess Cynthia has completed all the work for our new parish directory and they will be available starting tomorrow morning.

Please do read the thoughts on Holy Week below which give us a perspective on why this week is so significant in our lives.
 
Blessings to all of you and remember to keep on praying for one another and for this parish family.
 
Fr. Erich

 

Holy Week & Easter Day Schedule

Palm Sunday, April 14

  • 8:00 AM Morning Prayer

  • 8:30 AM Holy Communion w/Blessing of Palms

  • 9:45 AM Sunday School

  • 11:00 AM Holy Communion w/Blessing of Palms & Procession

  • 5:30 PM Evening Prayer

Monday in Holy Week, April 15

  • 8:00 AM Morning Prayer

  • 12:00 PM Holy Communion

  • 5:30 PM  Evening Prayer

Tuesday in Holy Week, April 16

  • 8:00 AM Morning Prayer

  • 12:00 PM Holy Communion

  • 5:30 PM Evening Prayer

Wednesday in Holy Week, April 17

  • 8:00 AM Morning Prayer

  • 5:30 PM Evening Prayer

  • 6:00 PM Holy Communion

  • 6:45 PM Meatless Supper

  • 7:00 PM Bible Study

Maundy Thursday, April 18

  • 7:00 AM Holy Communion

  • 8:00 AM Morning Prayer

  • 12:00 PM Holy Communion

  • 5:30 PM Evening Prayer

  • 7:00 PM  Holy Communion (incense used)

  • 8:30 PM The Watch ‘til Midnight

Good Friday, April 19

  • 8:00 AM Morning Prayer

  • 10:00 AM Divine Liturgy

  • 12:00 PM 3 Hour Meditations

  • 4:00 PM Confessions

  • 5:30 PM Evening Prayer

  • 7:00 PM Stations of the Cross

Easter Eve, April 20

  • 8:00 AM Morning Prayer

  • 5:30 PM Evening Prayer

  • 6:00 PM Easter Vigil

Easter Day, April 21

  • 8:30 AM Holy Communion w/music

  • 10:00 AM Easter Egg Hunt

  • 11:00 AM Festival Celebration of Holy Communion

  • 12:30 PM Easter Dinner

 

Thoughts on Holy Week

Easter is rightly called the Queen of Feasts. Like a queen she reigns over every other event in world history. Like a queen she reigns supreme over every other feast in the Christian year. Yet, to understand her greatness, we must see how all that went before is fulfilled in her, and how she is a new beginning for all future time. Easter is the completion of a great mystery: she is the beginning of a mystery as great.
 
It would be easier for us to remember the true meaning of the feast if its name were derived directly from the Hebrew Pasch, as is the English Passover and the French Pâques. For Easter is the Christian Pasch, or Passover. Let us begin at the beginning.
 
When man first sinned God promised a Saviour; and this promise he repeated to Abraham, whom he appointed father of the Chosen People through whom the Saviour would come. This Chosen People first came on to the stage of world history when, slaves in Egypt, they escaped through the desert to Palestine. Their escape, the Exodus, was accompanied by many strange happenings, and they always looked back to these happenings as God’s seal on their special mission. The Psalmist, St Stephen, St Peter, St Paul, point to these happenings as the credentials of the Jews as the Chosen People of God.
 
The Passover feast of the Jews commemorated the events which accompanied the “passing over” of their forefathers from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of Palestine. The “passing over” had started with a meal for which a lamb without blemish had been slain without a bone of its body being broken; its blood had been sprinkled on the door-posts of their houses so that the angel of death might pass over them; and the lamb had been eaten. Then had followed many signs of God’s special care for them: the safe crossing of the waters of the Red Sea which had drowned Pharaoh and the Egyptians; the light guiding them by night; the manna feeding them in the desert; until they eventually reached the land of promise.
 
So God brought forth his Chosen People from slavery to freedom. But the events which accompanied the Exodus from Egypt not only sealed the Israelites as the Chosen People of God; they were also a kind of rehearsal for the way in which God would eventually redeem mankind as a whole, and each individual as an individual. It was as if God allowed the shadow to appear centuries before, so that when the reality came it might be recognized. Christ was the reality of which these events were the shadow. He was the true Lamb, slain without a bone of his body being broken. His blood was shed and sprinkled so that the angel of death might pass over his people dying in sin. As the Israelites had passed through the Red Sea from death to life, so Christ passed through the sepulchre from death to life. As the enemies of the Israelites had been drowned in the waters of the Red Sea, so by his death Christ destroyed the enemies of mankind, sin and death. Christ is the true light, lighting man through the darkness of this world. He is the true manna, giving his body and blood to be the food of man in the wilderness of this life.

So we have a second Passover: the passing over of Jesus Christ from death to life, fulfilling the pattern of the ancient passing over of the Jews from Egypt to Palestine. So was the first Easter Day the completion of a great mystery.
 
But it was the beginning of a mystery as great. For Christ passed over from death to life so that each human soul might pass over from death in sin to eternal life. The events of the Exodus were not only a rehearsal for Christ’s passing over; they were also a rehearsal for each individual soul’s passing over. Born in captivity to sin, man passes through the waters, not of the Red Sea, but of Baptism, his soul cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God. Christ is the light and the food of his soul, leading him through the wilderness of this life to the promised land of heaven.
 
Easter is the Christian Passover (or more exactly, Good Friday and Easter together are), for the Passover is a passing over from death to life. As the ancient Passover included the preparation of a lamb for the Passover feast, so the first five days of Holy Week are the preparation of the Lamb of God for his Passover, starting with his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
 
During Holy Week and Easter the Church employs every device of her Liturgy (that is, of her public, official worship of God) to gather together all three strands of the Passover; taking us back in mind to the Passover of the Jews in Egypt and to the Passover of Christ in Jerusalem, and reminding us of our own Passover. Weaving all the Scriptures into one magnificent tapestry, she shows Christ as the fulfilment of the ancient prophecies, and his Passover as the reality of which the Jewish Passover was the shadow. Nowhere is the unity of the Bible better seen: one is left in no doubt that the one Testament without the other has no meaning. It is significant that during Holy Week, which is the climax of the New Testament, the Old Testament is heard more than the New.
 
We must pause to consider another way in which Christ fulfills the Old Testament. One of the ways in which God prepared his people for the coming of the Saviour was by scattering clues through the Old Testament, so that when the Saviour came he might be recognizable. Did not Herod ask the priests and scribes where Christ should be born? And they had been able to give him an answer: In Bethlehem, because Micah had foretold it. The four Evangelists, and St Peter and St Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, constantly use these clues to prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Saviour. To mention only a few instances: The triumphal entry into Jerusalem is seen as a fulfilment of a prophecy of Isaiah; the betrayal by Judas a fulfilment of the Psalmist; our Lord on the Cross applies to himself the words of the 22nd psalm; St Peter quotes a psalm in support of the Resurrection. In this way the Old Testament is of a truth, in the words of the writer to the Hebrews, “a shadow of good things to come”.
 
The Liturgy is much more than a dramatic representation: it is the means whereby the Church unites us to the mysteries of Christ. At Baptism we become members of the Mystical Body of Christ: we are grafted to Christ as a branch is grafted to a tree. And just as a branch grows not only by the action of the sap within it, but also by the action of the sun and rain from without, so we grow by grace both from prayer and sacrament and also by outwardly uniting ourselves to Christ in his mysteries through the Liturgy. And when participation in the Liturgy includes assisting at Mass and receiving Holy Communion, then indeed we are using the means at our disposal for growing in Christ. And nowhere is this truer than in the Passover Liturgy of Holy Week and Easter. A great means of grace is placed at our disposal: it is for us to use it.
 
So on Palm Sunday once more (some perhaps for the first time) we go up to Jerusalem with our blessed Lord. For three days we shall prepare: on Thursday we shall be with him at the Last Supper and in Gethsemane; on Friday at the foot of the Cross. And, if we are faithful, we shall be prepared for the climax of the whole week, indeed of the whole Christian Liturgy: the Easter Vigil of Saturday night, leading without a break to the Passover itself in the early hours of Easter morning. For this is the Christian Passover, Beginning in the darkness of the tomb, we shall be with Christ (depicted in the Paschal Candle) as he returns to life. We shall see the Candle plunged into the baptismal water–the Risen Christ giving power to the water so that the soul washed in it may die with him to sin and pass over with him to life. Finally, at about the hour when he rose from the tomb, the Church will bring him sacramentally to her altar, so that we may join in offering the one all-sufficient Paschal Lamb, and feed on the true manna of his Body and Blood, before we go out into the world to continue our own Passovers in striving to fulfil the baptismal promises we have just renewed.
 
What a wealth lies hid in this Liturgy! What gifts God has in store for our soul! Pray earnestly for your own sake and for the sake of your fellow-men that the Holy Spirit may help you to find them and to make them your own.

–from Holy Week and Easter: the services explained.

 

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