This is the most important week of the Christian Year as we walk behind Christ on his way of sorrows: from the triumph of Palm Sunday this Sunday through to the foot of the Cross on Good Friday and the glory of the resurrection of Easter Day.
I often liken this week to the reading of a book. You can read the first page of a book, and then skip to the last page and you will know how it ends (spoiler alert: Jesus wins!) but you will have no idea of how you got there. So this week, I invite you to come and be a part of the whole journey and walk with this community of faith on this way of sorrows. The details of all of the acts of worship are below. Some of these may be unfamiliar to you, and I invite you to dive in and experience them.
Palms in the shape of crosses are given to the congregation and (if weather permits – we do live on the edge of Dartmoor after all! – we will process with our Palms singing joyous songs to commemorate the triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. We hear the whole of the Passion of Jesus, this year from the Gospel of Luke before Holy Communion.
The Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross, or the Way of Sorrows – the via dolorosa enable us to follow the last few events of Jesus’ life, meditating on each stage and its significance both then and now.
Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Recalls that very night when Jesus gathered to instigate that special meal. As people come, the priest offers you to have your foot washed. It is symbolic of the Priests’s call to serve the people of this place and an important and moving event. You might feel very uncomfortable at the thought of this, but ask yourself – is this not exactly what the disciples felt that night when the Son of God did that for them? Let go, and like Peter allow yourself to be served.
Watch of the Blessed Sacrament
After the Last Supper Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemene. To symbolise this, we take the consecrated bread (‘the blessed sacrament’) to a beautifully decorated side altar where we spend time in silent reflection. This will be available until Midnight, ending when Jesus is arrested. You can come at any time before that, stay for as long as you like or need to spend time in quiet reflection and prayer (Fr Simon will be there the whole time to ensure your safety).
Jesus, according to the Scriptures, hung on the Cross for three hours, so in recognition of this there are three separate yet connected acts of Worship from Noon until 3pm. Between each there is a short break to eat Hot Cross Buns – traditionally the only day on which they are supposed to be eaten.
It begins at Noon with another Stations of the Cross.
Meditation on the Last Words of Christ
These last sayings of Jesus are meditated upon in a reflection led by Fr Simon. In a multimedia exploration of their significance and meaning for us and for our Christian lives, using art and music to reach new insights.
Liturgy, Passion and Veneration of the Cross
The does not celebrate the Mass as such on Good Friday, but the same blessed sacrament we prayed for on Maundy Thursday night is shared between those who come to the last act of worship, after we have heard the Passionj story, as always according to S. John. It is a powerful story. We then are invited to come forward and recognise the power of the cross, to kneel before it, perhaps make the sign of the cross before it, perhaps even kiss it or touch it if we wish and then to place a red ribbon on it, symbolic of Christ’s blood
The Church is in mourning. Nothing happens (except for cleaning) as Christ is in to tomb. We have to wait.
Yes, I know 6am sounds like it is going to hurt – but believe me, it will be worth it.
“Very early on the first day of the week…” the women came to the tomb and found Christ risen. From the near-dawn, we bring the Paschal Candle into S. Anne’s and hear of God’s slavation histiry through Scripture and song before (technically at dawn. although this year we will be a little late) Christ bursts from the tomb and the most joyous Mass is celebrated. It is worth the effort, I promise you.
After that Mass, there will be bacon rolls, pastries, coffee and juice as we share breakfast and then you have the rest of Easter free!
Mass of Easter
…or of course you can come back to Mass a little later. At the 11.15am Service we joyously will admit three young people to Holy Communion and celebrate their journey of faith. In our Churches, first holy communion is given with the expectation that they will continue to receive as God welcomes all to his table.
Come and walk with us this Holy Week – get the full story and appreciate the reason for the season!