Lent, Holy Week and Easter: A User s Guide

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1 2014 Lent, Holy Week and Easter: A User s Guide Written by The Rev d Jessica Babcock St. Christopher s Episcopal Church Pensacola, Florida

2 Lent, Holy Week, and Easter: A User s Guide The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare them by a season of penitence and fasting. (BCP, ) Because the forty days of Lent were (and still are) used to prepare adults for Baptism at the Great Vigil of Easter during Holy Week, the tone of the season of Lent is one of repentance, forgiveness of sins, and reconciliation with God. This message of penitence (another word for repentance or atonement) and reconciliation is so important to Christians that the seasons of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter fill up a substantial part of the church year. i During Lent, our worship space at St. Christopher s reflects the solemnness of the season. You ll notice that the cross in the sanctuary and the processional crosses are draped with purple cloth as we move through the season of Lent. Greens are substituted for flowers on the altar and our music program becomes quiet, simple and introspective. We also stop saying alleluias during all services until they return joyfully on Easter Day. As we reach Maundy Thursday, the altar is stripped bare in expectation of Christ s crucifixion on Good Friday. In all of this we, as Christ s Church, are preparing ourselves for the resurrection of Jesus. Yes, but what do I do during Lent? The answer is simple. Participate in Lent and Holy Week services! Since Lent is an opportunity for repentance and renewal for individuals as well as the entire parish, we come together as a community and walk through the season using corporate prayer and worship. This begins with the Ash Wednesday service on March 5th and continues through Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, The Great Vigil of Easter, and Easter Day. In this way we learn to journey with Jesus through the events that led to his death and resurrection. Our participation in the dying and rising of Jesus Christ is at the core of our Christian faith. Where do I start? Begin your Lent by attending one of the Ash Wednesday services on, March 5th. Then, make a personal commitment to do one or more of the spiritual practices below. Fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. If you have not experienced fasting before, you may begin with what is called a juice fast. This includes drinking only water and apple juice during the day and limiting yourself to a small meal at night. If this works, you can work up to a full fast on your second attempt. Hunger pains can be a helpful way to remember to pray for others and enter into self-reflection. If you have health concerns please consult your doctor before fasting. 1

3 Self-denial can be an addition to or alternative for fasting. Giving up a favorite food, drink, or a bad habit for the entire season of Lent forces you to be mindful of the hunger of others each time you crave that item or revert to a certain behavior. These are simple acts of self-denial that help us grow toward Christ. However, don t ere by making them too simple. (e.g. It s not about the chocolate!) This defeats the purpose. Attend a weekday Bible study, like the one that meets in the Homer Davis conference room on Wednesdays throughout the year (9 AM). Begin and/or end the day with personal Morning or Evening Prayer found in the Book of Common Prayer. For easy access to the correct daily readings for Lent that you can access from home or the office, visit Mission St. Clare also offers the service in audio format. On all Wednesdays in Lent we offer a 6:30 AM Eucharist in the Chapel for early risers who use this as a Lenten discipline before the day begins. Cynthia Tappan also plays her harp during these services. Stations of the Cross on all Wednesdays in Lent we walk the Stations of the Cross beginning at 5 PM in the Church Nave prior to Mid-Week Manna. Contact Laura Grimm for more information. Bring yourself and your family to our five-week Lenten Series for Mid-Week Manna that begins at 5:30 PM on the following dates: March 12, March 19, March 26, April 2, April 9. After eating dinner together, the adult program will focus on C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce (available for purchase in the church office for $9.00) while the children attend Colorful Chords or EYC. This is a great way to experience fellowship together with a meal and a program during the forty days of Lent. (Note that on March 5th Ash Wednesday there is no Mid-Week Manna program but rather an Ash Wednesday service at 6 PM.) Pick up an Episcopal Relief and Development 2014 Devotional Guide for Lent or The Living Compass Daily Readings for the Season of Lent available on the table just outside the Parish Hall. Establish a set time during Lent to read your daily devotional and then sit in silence (or prayer) after you finish for ten minutes. You ll be surprised at what you find in the silence. Join our Contemplative Prayer Group that meets on Mondays at 11AM in the Chapel. This group gathers on Mondays throughout the year and during Lent they will be using new contemplative recordings made by our own George Milner for our centering group. Consult your priests about a personal confession called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is available by scheduling a private appointment with your priest (Fr. Eric or Mtr. Jessica) who will help you prepare for this process. The Episcopal Church has revitalized this practice as a way for Christians to seek Christ s healing power through guided selfreflection, admission of sins, and reconciliation with God through forgiveness. 2

4 Is There Something for Children and Teens? CHILDREN and LENT Look for a special Lenten program for your little ones during Sunday s Children s Chapel. A Lenten devotional for kids, Jewels in the King s Crown, is available on the table outside the Parish Hall. Also, a Children s Stations of the Cross will be hosted by the EYC on Good Friday. (see below) TEENS and LENT The Sr. EYC Lenten Retreat will be on April th at Jan Smith s Beach House. The EYC Middle School Lenten Lock-in begins after the Maundy Thursday service and continues until pickup Friday Morning. (See below) Contact for more information. Easter morning, the kids meet in the Chapel at 10:15 to flower the cross. Lent is a Season of Transformation C.S. Lewis penned it best in Mere Christianity: [Repentance] means unlearning all the self-conceit and self -will that we have been training ourselves into... It means killing part of yourself, under-going a kind of death. ii The observance of Lent is a period of self-examination, asking God for forgiveness, and repentance. This is a transformational process that includes an intentional change of heart and mind that leads you into closer unity with God. It is a kind of death-to-self transformation that Lewis references here as we attempt to follow Christ in all ways. Could you walk me through the services? Ash Wednesday, March 5 th 6:30 am - Holy Eucharist and the Imposition of Ashes in the Chapel 10:30 pm - Holy Unction and Holy Eucharist (a normal weekly healing service at St. Chris) 6:00 pm - Holy Eucharist and the Imposition of Ashes in the Church Ash Wednesday opens the season of Lent. Lent is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning spring or forty days when translated from the Latin, quadragesima. Since the 4 th Century, Christians described this forty-day period as a penitential season during which converts would prepare for Easter baptism. In the Episcopal tradition we prepare adult candidates for baptism during this time but also baptize infants and adults throughout the year (except during the 40 days of Lent). This service is an invitation to enter into a Holy Lent. During this service, the priest imposes ashes on the forehead of each parishioner. He or she makes a small cross and says, Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. (BCP 265 and Genesis 3:19) This practice has its roots in the Old Testament when covering yourself with sackcloth and ashes was a sign of repentance and mourning. Early Christians followed the same practice. iii The ashes used during the service are prepared by burning the palms from the previous years Palm Sunday service. By having our foreheads marked with ash, we are reminded that we completely belong to God. After 3

5 the service we wear the ashes out into the world as a sign of repentance. The imposition of ashes is followed by a corporate confession of sin and absolution by the priest. Holy Week, April 13 April 19 Holy Week encompasses the week leading up to but not including Easter Day. It begins with Palm Sunday, continues with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the Great Vigil of Easter. Each service in Holy Week allows us to walk with Jesus from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and through the events leading to his death on the cross. We experience the Last Supper, his denial in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his crucifixion on Good Friday. With each service we remember that Christ went to his death for our redemption. The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday, April 13 8:00 am - Holy Eucharist in the Church Nave 10:30 am - Palm Sunday Procession (gather outside the church at 10:15), Passion Reading and Holy Eucharist in the Church Nave So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! (John 12:13, NRSV) This Sunday service one week prior to Easter Day is commonly referred to as Palm Sunday but actually has a double title: The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday. The Liturgy of the Palms begins in the Memorial Garden (10:15) where the palms are blessed. The entire congregation proceeds together carrying palms into the church in remembrance of Christ s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This is followed by a dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel narrated by parishioners of St. Christopher s. The procession of the palms and the reading of the Passion Narrative brings the entire community into Holy Week together. Maundy Thursday, April 17 6:00 pm - Liturgy for Maundy Thursday with Foot washing and Holy Eucharist in the Church. (EYC Middle School Lenten Lock-in begins after this service and continues until Friday Morning.) I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. (John 13:34) Maundy comes from the Latin mandatum and refers directly to John 13:34 Jesus mandate to love one another. Maundy Thursday ties the events of the Last Supper directly to Good Friday and Jesus death on the cross. Maundy Thursday is important because it forever links Jesus Last Supper (the foundation for our Eucharist) and his sacrifice for us on the cross on Good Friday. It is the only Eucharist celebrated between Wednesday of Holy Week and the Great Vigil. The optional foot washing included in this service can be best experienced as an act of humble service. It emulates Jesus s actions at the Last Supper when he washed the feet of his disciples. iv (John 13:4-16) This service concludes in darkness and silence, with the lights turned out, candles 4

6 extinguished and all ornaments removed from the altar; all in preparation for the solemn event of Good Friday. Good Friday, April 18 9:30 am Children s Stations of the Cross hosted by the EYC. 12:00 pm The Liturgy for Good Friday in the Church The Good Friday liturgy can be traced back to Jerusalem in the 4 th century and serves as a commemoration of Jesus crucifixion. Central to the service is the veneration of the cross; a ceremony believed to be brought home by early pilgrims who traveled to the site of Christ s crucifixion in Jerusalem in the early 3 rd and 4 th centuries. Today many in the Anglican Communion maintain this tradition by bringing a large wooden cross into the church during the service. v Easter Day 8:00 and 10:30 am - The Sunday of the Resurrection in the Church A service filled with joy, alleluias, and music as we glory in Christ s triumph! The alleluias return after being silenced during Lent. He has risen! He has risen! Bibliography Leech, Kenneth. We Preach Christ Crucified. Cambridge: Cowley Publications, Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity: A Revised and Amplified Edition, with a new introduction, of the three books, Broadcast Talks, Christian Behavior, and Beyond personality. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, Mitchell, Leonel L. Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and the Great Fifty Days: A Ceremonial Guide. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, Wybrew, Hugh. Orthodox Lent, Holy Week, and Easter: liturgical texts with commentary. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, (BCP) Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal Church Publishing Incorporated, New York. i Wybrew, ii Lewis, page unknown. iii Mitchell, 4. iv Mitchell,

7 v Mitchell, 66. 6

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