Dean’s Letter: Holy Week Part 1

Hello St. Paul’s,

On Sunday we will enter Holy Week, the center of the church year. The week before Easter is a time when we focus on the tragedy of the Cross and the paradox that this tragedy, the judicial murder of an innocent man, is the greatest gift that we have ever received. While the world prefers the straightforward joy of Christmas, we know that these eight days, Palm Sunday through Easter Day, are the reason for our faith. Our observance of these holy days marks our gratitude for the redemption of the world by the risen Christ.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, a day of emotional whiplash, when we  re-enact the triumphal entry of Jesus and his disciples into Jerusalem and then precipitously move to the Passion, this year hearing Luke’s version. You might try reading the Passion as told by Matthew, Mark, and Luke in one sitting, to get a sense of how they differ; we hear from each one over the course of three years.

Each service on Sunday has its own flavor: at 8:00 am we enact the Palm liturgy in our seats and hear the Passion as a dramatic reading, while the later service, starting at 10:00 in the Queen’s Courtyard, begins with a noisy, messy parade, led by the Supersonic Samba Dancers through the neighborhood and into the church. The Passion is chanted at this service. At our Spanish service the parade will be led by our regular musicians. Once in our places, the mood changes as we plunge into the depths of the Passion story, followed by the Eucharist. There is no dismissal at the end of the Palm Sunday liturgy, as the church sees Holy Week as one continuous liturgy.

On the evening of Palm Sunday the gentlemen of our choir offer a somber but beautiful musical meditation on the Passion.

This year on Tuesday of Holy Week we will present an instructed Eucharist. This is always a popular event and will expand your appreciation of our liturgy as we enact and comment on each section.

On Wednesday our choir offers Tenebrae, a service of contemplation and shadows, during which the lights gradually fade away until we are left in the dark of the tomb before being rudely awoken by a noise representing the earthquake that was reported at the time of the resurrection.

I’ll talk about the climactic three days, the Triduum of Thursday evening through Sunday morning, in my letter next week.  I encourage you to attend as much of the Holy Week observance as your schedule permits: it will make your Easter joy all the more splendid.

See you on Palm Sunday!

Your sister in Christ,
Penny

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