St. Mary's Reflection: The Rev. David Erickson
Holy Week: The Journey with Jesus through the Cross to the Empty Tomb
Jesus invites us to be his disciples and follow him. One of the greatest ritual experiences we have in following Jesus liturgically is through Holy Week. Holy Week marks the culmination of the Lenten season and the preparation for Easter Sunday. It is a time of deep reflection, introspection, and contemplation as we journey with Jesus Christ through his final days on earth, his passion, death, and joyous resurrection.
The Palm Sunday liturgy we experienced this past Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, with the commemoration of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This event symbolizes the arrival of the Messiah, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the beginning of a new era in human history. As Episcopalians, we join in the procession with palm branches, singing Hosanna to the Son of David, as we welcome Jesus into our lives and into the world through our lives.
The Maundy Thursday service is another crucial part of Holy Week, as it commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples. This liturgy at St. Mary’s includes a ceremonial “last supper” in our parish hall, the washing of feet which symbolizes Jesus' humble service to his disciples and his call for us to serve one another with love and humility, and the stripping of our altar. The celebration of the Eucharist also takes place during this service, marking the incredible gift of this sacrament to all of Christ’s followers throughout time.
Good Friday, the most solemn day in Holy Week, commemorates Jesus' crucifixion and death. During the afternoon, there will be an opportunity to walk the stations of the cross in our courtyard. The traditional liturgy in the evening includes the Passion narrative, the veneration of the cross, and the solemn collects. It is a time for us to meditate on the immense sacrifice that Jesus made for our salvation, and to reflect on our own calling to carry our cross in our own lives.
At last, we arrive at Easter Sunday. We gather and sing joyous hymns, flowers adorn our sanctuary, we proclaim Christ is Risen, and receive the sacrament of Eucharist once again. We receive the incredible, infinite love of God and are sent forth as transformative instruments of that love, that grace, that Resurrection into the world.
Holy Week is a time for us to reflect on the central mystery of our faith – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Episcopalians, we believe that through his death on the cross, Jesus conquered death and opened the way to abundant and eternal life. Holy Week reminds us of the great love that God has for us, and the lengths to which God was willing to go have us be a part of that love as well.
For more details on our Holy Week Services, please click HERE.
The Rev. David Erickson