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Holy Week & Easter Services
Ash Wednesday: Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the forty day period of preparation for Easter. During this service we receive on a foreheads in ash the sign of the cross. This sign is given with the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.” These words sum up the reasons we keep this season: We remember 1) our mortality, that is, our frailty, and 2) our sins and our need for repentance. The service includes a celebration of the Mass or Eucharist, in which share bread and wine in remembrance of Christ’s death on the cross and in anticipation of his future return.
On this Sunday we recall both Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his passion. The former we re-enact, meeting outside or in the hall (depending on the weather) and process into the church carrying palm branches. Once in the church, in place of the sermon, we hear and participate in a dramatic reading of Christ’s passion and death (according to the gospels of Matthew, Mark or Luke). It is our custom at All Saints’ for individuals to collect a nail at the end of this service; the nail is carried throughout the week as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice and returned to Church on Good Friday.
At this evening service, we celebrate the gift of the Eucharist as we recall Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, as well as his prayerful watch in the Garden of Gethsemane and his arrest. As Jesus washed his disciples, so early in this service twelve members of the congregation have their feet washed by the clergy. The celebration of the Eucharist is the last before Easter morning. Later we strip the altar and remove all the furnishings from the church in a symbolic re-enactment of Jesus’ arrest and abandonment by his followers. The service ends with a watch in silence which extends, for those wishing to stay, until mid-night.
In the morning of Good Friday there is an all-age service, Messy Church style, at King Edward's Hall. This allows children and their parents to re-live the story of Christ’s passion and death through crafts, drama and worship.
In the afternoon there is a solemn and simple service at the Church, in which we remember and give thanks for Christ’s sacrifice and his love for us. We hear and participate in the passion story according to the Gospel of John. A central focus of the service is the veneration of the cross, in which we return the nails, which we received on Palm Sunday, and lay them at the foot of the cross. The sacrament, reserved from Maundy Thursday, is distributed and all leave in silence. This service is preceded by an hour of shared silence in the Church.
On the evening of Holy Saturday we keep a simple Tenebrae (Latin for “in darkness”) service. The service consists of readings and Taizé chants. After each reading, a candle is extinguished. The service ends in silence and darkness.
At Easter we celebrate the Christ’s victory over death, the grave, Satan and all evil.
At dawn on Easter morning we hold a service of light and the first Mass of Easter. A new Paschal Candle (Easter Candle) is lit in darkness outside the church, with words which recall the cosmic dimension of Christ’s victory. We then process into the darkened Church. The Exsultet, an ancient hymn which well-expresses our Easter faith and joy, is sung. With the lights, bells, music, and hymns we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the hope of our resurrection. We renew our baptismal promises and celebrate the Eucharist. This service is followed by a hearty breakfast in the hall.
There are then Easter Day services at our usual Sunday times, all of which are marked by Easter joy.
Please check the calendar for times and locations of these services.