Holy Week is believed to have developed in Jerusalem in the fourth century. The Easter Vigil was already in existence and the combination of heightened interest in Christian history, the construction of churches on sacred sites in the Holy Land, and the influx of pilgrims to Jerusalem for Easter produced a series of services that became Holy Week. These services were held in Jerusalem on the “original” sites as indicated in the Gospels. It was from Jerusalem that the pilgrims took these services home and adapted them into the liturgical cycle in their own churches. In the Middle Ages the Crusaders brought back with them the Stations of the Cross. Below you will find a description of all the services which The Church of the Epiphany will celebrate during Holy Week. I pray that you and your family may observe several or all the services being offered, in order to commemorate the Paschal Mystery, that is, the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. ~Fr. Matt
March 25: The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday Eucharist: 8 and 10:30 a.m. –The Liturgy for Palm Sunday is in two parts.
- The Liturgy of the Palms celebrates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to accomplish his Paschal Mystery.
- The second part of the liturgy changes from triumph to tragedy as it focuses on the suffering and death of Jesus. During this liturgy, and in days that follow, we are given the opportunity to remember in ever new and deeper ways what God has done for God’s people.
March 26 & 27: On Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week, Epiphany will celebrate Evening Prayer in the Church at 6:00 p.m.
March 28: On Wednesday of Holy Week, the Eucharist with Unction will be offered at6:00 p.m.
March 29: Maundy Thursday – The Eucharist – begins the Sacred Triduum, or The Three Sacred Days of our redemption. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. (please note that all the services during Holy Week begin at 6:00 p.m.), we celebrate our Lord’s institution of the sacrament of his Body and Blood. We hear the ancient instructions for celebrating the Passover, Paul’s account of the institution of the Eucharist, and John’s account of the moment when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet.
After Holy Communion on this night, the altar is stripped, and the Sacrament is placed on the Altar of Repose, where it will be available for Holy Communion on GoodFriday. Everyone is invited to keep vigil in the church in response to Jesus’ question, “Could you not watch with me for one hour?”
The night ends with Tenebrae at 8:00 p.m. It is important to realize that with the close of Maundy Thursday, the liturgy does not actually end. Rather, the celebration of the mysteries of our redemption are of such magnitude that three days are necessary to plummet their depths. Thus, the celebration of our faith continues through Friday,Saturday, and Sunday.
March 30: Good Friday – This liturgy, celebrated at 6:00 p.m., is the second part of a series of rites which cover the Three Sacred Days of our redemption. This liturgy began on Maundy Thursday evening and will be concluded on Sunday. We will hear proclaimed The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John, followed by prayers for the Church and the world. It was on the cross that Jesus made his full intercession for us, and we are united with him through Baptism in that intercession.
The final portions of this liturgy takes place before a cross, where we praise Christ for his love, which he demonstrated on the cross. Then we receive Holy Communion from the reserved Eucharist. At the end of the liturgy, we depart in silence as we prepare for the final act of this three act play: The Great Vigil of Easter.
*Please note: Epiphany will also observe The Way of the Cross on Good Friday, March 30th, in the Church at 12:15 p.m.
March 31: Holy Saturday Morning Prayer – Epiphany will gather for a simple Liturgy of the Word service beginning at 10:00 a.m. Throughout the whole of the Christian world, there is no celebration of the Eucharist on Holy Saturday until sunset. After the service, members of the Altar Guild (and anyone else who wants to volunteer) will begin to prepare the church for Easter Sunday.
April 1: The Great Vigil of Easter – St. Augustine first introduced the phrase, “The Paschal Mystery.” One theologian describes the Paschal Mystery as the saving event by which God in all times and in all places saves the human race. Epiphany will celebrate the Easter Vigil with a Sunrise Service beginning at 6:30 a.m. on Easter Sundaymorning. During the Easter Vigil, we recount the following sequence of events.
- The kindling of the new fire and the lighting of the Paschal (Easter) Candle.
- The recounting of Passover/Exodus from Egypt, and the entrance into the Promised Land.
- The service of Baptism and renewal of our own Baptismal vows.
- The First Joyful Eucharist of Easter.
Following the Easter Vigil, Epiphany will celebrate Easter with a delicious breakfast. We will then conclude our three great days of celebrating the Paschal Mystery with the 10:30 a.m. Easter Sunday Eucharist during which the children flower the cross of our redemption. After the service, there will be an Easter Egg Hunt and refreshments for both the children and adults.
Since Maundy Thursday, we have been involved in an extended liturgy which is brought to conclusion at Epiphany’s principle service. This is the day of the Passover of Christ from death into life. It is also the celebration of our own pass-over in Holy Baptism, in which “we were buried with Christ in his death and raised with him into new life.” ~Fr. Matt