4523 Six Forks Rd. Raleigh, NC 27609
Holy Week and Easter Season
Dear Members and Friends of Saint Timothy’s,
As I write, we are nearing the end of Lent and ready to begin our life together through the most solemn time of the year, Holy Week and Easter Season. Our whole Christian year is designed and planned around this week when we live through the hallowed events of the end of Our Lord’s earthly life and ministry. We do celebrate Our Lord’s Resurrection Sunday by Sunday through the year and it is necessary to be in Church each of those Sundays for that reason; to celebrate and take part in all the benefits of His Resurrection. We see and appreciate those Sundays as “little Easters”. All the more reason we should be in Church with our fellow Christians during Holy Week and Easter Day when we participate in the events that re-present Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His gift to us of Holy Communion, His suffering, and death that save us and His glorious Resurrection that gives us eternal life. Because these are the reasons we have all Sundays, we should be together on these days that re-live the whole reason and purpose of our faith. It is these days that set forth the whole cycle of the Christian Year and we should live through them together. H. Boone Porter, a former liturgics professor and former editor of The Living Church, puts it this way, “At other times of the Church Year, we listen to readings about certain events and we sing appropriate hymns and say appropriate prayers. At this time, (Holy Week) we actively enter into the events being commemorated. We ourselves, march with palms on Palm Sunday, we speak some of the words in the narrative of the Passion, we experience the Maundy Thursday Eucharist as a Last Supper, we mourn before the cross on Friday, we behold a pillar of fire on Saturday night. At these times, the entire congregation, in a most literal way, does the liturgy together.”
When I say, “re-present” and “participate” in these events it’s because they are indeed truly re-lived for us spiritually by faith each time we celebrate them. These services of Holy Week are not just dramatic recreations or performances. They show forth the historical events that brought us the Paschal Mystery which is that Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again. The benefits of this Paschal Mystery cut across all history. We take part in Christ’s suffering, His death, His Resurrection and we await His coming again to claim His Church each time we partake of the Eucharist. That work is continually present by the power of the Holy Ghost and our faith allows us to join it and take part in it. In the same way, we take part in the spiritual reality of these events in Holy Week. We re-live the events that gave us the Paschal Mystery. In a liturgical commentary on Holy Week and Easter, Jen Gaillard and William Busch use the writings of the Church Fathers to describe the Paschal celebration, “The paschal feast unfolds through two weeks of privileged days: Holy Week and Easter Week. Holy Week was called originally the Paschal Week. St. John Chrysostom calls it the Great Week. In the Middle Ages, it was sometimes called the Painful Week, because of the sufferings of our Lord and because of the fatiguing ceremonies, or it was called the Week of Pardon in reference to the reconciliation of the penitents on Holy Thursday.
Throughout Holy Week the Church re-lives the drama of Christ’s passion day by day. Each of the events commemorated lends its coloring to the prayer the praise, the adoration. The Church enters by faith into the mystery of redemption and engages in the combat and the victory of life over death. St. Gregory Nazianzen says in an Easter sermon: Yesterday I was in agony with Christ on the cross; today I am glorified with Him. Yesterday I died with Him; today I return with Him to life. Yesterday I was in the tomb with Him; today I am risen with Him.”
We do well to attend and take part in all the Holy Week and Easter liturgies. We begin on Palm Sunday, April 9th with the Palm Sunday services at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Each of the services for the triduum, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil and First Mass of Easter, April 13th through the 15th begin at 7:00 p.m. We will also celebrate Holy Baptism at the Great Vigil of Easter. On Easter Day, April 16th we will have our two Easter Day services at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. with the 11:00 a.m. service beginning with a Solemn Procession. We will continue the celebration with an Easter Egg Hunt for the children during our Easter Day Reception in the parish hall.
It is always a joy to celebrate Holy Week and Easter here as a parish family and pray that each of you is able to be here and know the joy of the Lord’s Resurrection..
I am certainly thankful that I have the privilege of serving here at our beloved Saint Timothy’s Church.
Yours faithfully, in Christ,
The Reverend Jay C. James