Here’s a list of simple but compelling exercises that you might read or do during this Holy Week. They are opportunities and food for thought, a chance to walk the whole walk of Holy Week. Poke around, see if one of these works better for you…this story is your story! See yourself in it.
Morning and Evening Prayer services with appropriate readings for each day.
Live streams of services from St. Thomas’s, 5th Ave and other congregations
Video Sermons and Hymn Texts from the Brothers at the Society of St. John the Evangelist
Follow the Holy Week blogging of the “Internet Monk”
A series of family activities for those with young children.
You can also follow @Virtual_Abbey on Twitter to participate in their brief services
If you have another link for a devotional source you like to do or a family tradition that you’d like to share, please post them in the comment section or on our facebook page!
Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter when Christians around the world remember the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the Episcopal tradition, we have special services to remember those events. Each of these services has a different feel, a unique kind of energy, and they are structured to bring us emotionally and spiritually on the journey to new life that is promised to all of us on Easter Day. Here’s a brief description of what that journey looks like:
Palm Sunday – In scripture, we read that Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem shortly before his death and was greeted by the people of the city as the Messiah – the king who comes in the name of the Lord (here’s a link to the story as Luke tells it). The people of Jerusalem wave palm branches in celebration as Jesus rides a colt into the city (fulfilling a prophecy found in Zecheriah 9:9). In our Palm Sunday worship, we also wave palm branches and sing songs about the greatness of God. But by the end of the service, the joyful mood turns more serious as we hear the story of Jesus’ betrayal and death.
Maundy Thursday – “Maundy” is kind of a strange word and we don’t use it too often in our modern world. The origin is from the Latin word “Mandatum” which means “Commandment.” So on Maundy Thursday, we remember the New Commandment that Christ gave to his friends shortly before his death – “Love one another as I have loved you.” We act out this commandment in different ways. At some churches, there is an opportunity for people to wash one another’s feet as Jesus did prior to the Last Supper. All Episcopal congregations celebrate the Eucharist (or “Lord’s Supper” or “Holy Communion”) to remember this last night that Jesus ate with his friends. Some congregations (like Trinity Church in Portland) have a Seder meal like the one the disciples had that night. At the end of the service, the altar is cleared bare of all candles and cloths and other items to prepare for Good Friday. Folks leave the church quietly at the end of the service as some people like to stay and pray in remembrance of Jesus’ night of agony in the garden when he knows he’s about to die.
Good Friday is the day when we remember the death of Jesus. Some congregations do this by gathering from noon to 3pm, the hours when Jesus hung on the cross. Other congregations participate in the Way of the Cross (also known as the “Stations”), a time of prayer and reflection on the events of Jesus’ last day. There is also a simple Good Friday service often held in the evenings…a very quiet service of mourning, and a powerful experience for anyone who has experienced loss in their life.
Easter Sunday is the day when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. His returning to life is a sign that all of us can have a new life, a life where we dwell in the love and peace of God. It’s a sign that we don’t have to stay the same, but rather have the opportunity to be transformed into the best, fullest, and most whole versions of ourselves. At St. Peter’s we begin the celebration at dawn on the Back Cove with a sunrise service we share with our brothers and sisters at Trinity Church. We remember that it was at dawn when the women came to the tomb of Jesus only to discover that it was empty! At 9:30 we have a more traditional Easter Celebration with familiar hymns and shouts of praise to God. Our transformation as individuals and as a community begins all over again!
We invite you to join us for all or part of our Holy Week observance! If you’d like more information on our service schedule at St. Peter’s or at our sister church Trinity, please click here.
On October 13th and 14th, we had our annual Harvest Home Celebration! Harvest Home is a tradition we’ve carried on in this congregation that goes back to our roots as a community of immigrants new to the Portland area. Harvest Home is a traditional English festival that celebrates the gifts of the harvest…it’s a festival of Thanksgiving. Every year, the folks at St. Peter’s take this opportunity to celebrate the blessings of our lives and offer the “first fruits” of our harvest. Those of us who have our own vegetable and fruit gardens will bring our best produce, those of us without gardens buy some of the best produce we can find, some of us make jams and jellies, and we decorate the church for a special service. Afterwards, all of the produce is donated to local feeding ministries. It’s one of the ways we offer our thanks to the Lord! Here are some pictures from Harvest Home 2012:
Stressed out by the weight of the world? Or at least, your world?
A great way to center yourself in challenging times (or rejoice in wonderful times!) is to pray the daily office. We have a new link at the bottom of our website to a great site that provides all you need to pray the daily office. It offers a way to pattern your day, to take time in the mornings and the evenings to acknowledge the Source, to offer up concerns too big for us to handle alone and to reflect on those things in our lives that bring us deep gladness. The Daily Office West blog compiles all of the prayers, scripture readings, and comments on the saints of the day into one easy to use site. Pray a part of it or pray all of it! Just know that each day you have a resource to turn to, one that can draw you into a life of rich faith. Check it out. Try it for a few days. See if praying the daily office can help you put down that weight you’ve been carrying around. After all, the yoke is supposed to be easy, and the burden very light indeed.