Getting Ready for Holy Week

            It’s the time of the year when paper copies of worship bulletins litter my desk. Here at the church office, we’re getting ready for Holy Week. This means our church staff spends many hours writing, editing, locating people, and doing our best to stay healthy. Lesson one for church staff members and leaders for Holy Week: Don’t get sick.

            Holy Week contains the seven days before Easter Sunday, from Palm Sunday morning to Holy Saturday night. The four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—give a lot of attention to those seven days. John’s Gospel gives 8 chapters.

            As Jesus lived them, the days of Holy Week, were weighted with pressure, conflict and drama. Author Joan Chittister writes of Holy Week, “All in all, it is a week that brings us face-to-face with the great question, why must this happen? What is all this suffering about? But deep down inside of us, we already know what the life of Jesus and these first days of Holy Week confirm: there are some things worth living for, even if we find ourselves having to die for them as well.”

            I’m always sorry when folks just show up for Easter. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m glad to see all the people but I think if you walk into church on Easter and having missed the worship of Holy Week, it’s like walking into a play for the last act. I am a big advocate of building the rest of your life around the worship of Holy Week.

            Palm Sunday sets the drama of Holy Week. The crowds cheer their praises to God when Jesus enters Jerusalem. Then, on Friday, the crowds scream at Pilate to crucify Him. Anyone who has seriously sought to follow Jesus knows what it is like to be in either or both crowds.

Palm Sunday Worship: 8:30 Traditional in the sanctuary, 11:00 Contemporary in Fellowship Hall, Educational Hour for all ages at 9:45

            Maundy Thursday marks the last meal Jesus had with His disciples. That meal began with Jesus washing the feet of His friends, including Judas who would betray Him and Peter who would deny Him. We gather for a Soup & Bread Supper at 6:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. Worship at evening begins at 7:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. Grant Farmer, our Contemporary Music Director has organized a musical narration of the events of this night called, “I Know What Love is Now” featuring a number of vocalists from Westminster Choir College. The Lord’s Supper is shared on this evening.

Maundy Thursday: Soup & Bread Supper at 6:00 p.m., worship at 7:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall

            Good Friday is the day Jesus gave His life for us. We gather in the sanctuary for worship with Tenebrae, the service of shadows. Seven readers read from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ betrayal, trials, sentence, death and burial. When we leave church that night, the sanctuary is dark and we depart in silence.

Good Friday: 7:00 p.m. worship in the Sanctuary

            Easter Sunday Now, having walked through all of these other services in Holy Week, you enter church. The rooms are full of light and the smell of flowers. We greet each other with the impossible good news: Christ the Lord is risen, He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Easter Sunday: 6:30 a.m. Sunrise service in the courtyard; 8:30 Children’s Service in Fellowship Hall; 9:45 Children’s Program in the sanctuary; 11:00 a.m. Celebration Service in Fellowship Hall. Breakfast served in the Music Room after the sunrise service, with Coffee Hour following the second and third service