Midweek Message: "Reflections on the Coming Holy Days"

Week of the Fifth Sunday in Lent

Midweek Lenten Worship and Presentation, 7:00 pm on March 24:

A Zoom link for Wednesday's Midweek Lenten Worship and Presentation on Faith Informing Life's Work will be sent via Constant Contact. If you are not receiving our Constant Contact messages, please contact the church office.

Reflections on the Coming Holy Days

Dear Friends in Christ:

As our second pandemic Lent soon draws to a close, we are on the brink of observing and celebrating among the holiest of days in the Christian calendar, namely, Palm and Passion Sunday, The Three Days – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Vigil of Easter – and Resurrection of our Lord, Easter Day.

As usual, we will provide resources for worship at home for Sunday of the Passion, The Three Days, and Easter Sunday. Included will be worship videos for Passion Sunday and Easter Sunday. But there will also be occasion for those who desire and are able to worship in person outdoors on each of these occasions.

In whatever ways appropriate to your circumstances, I invite your robust participation in these Holy Days at home and in person, again if you are safely able. For what these days hold forth for us are the central mysteries of our faith centered on the cross and grounded in the empty tomb. The liturgies for Holy Week and Easter make for our personal and direct participation in the sacred drama of these days both at home and outdoors in person, albeit in truncated ways.

We won’t be able to do all of the things called for in our liturgical enactments. Current pandemic protocols preclude, for example, unabridged readings of the Passion stories outdoors, the laying on of hands for individual forgiveness and the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday. Likewise, the abbreviated and partial Easter Vigil outdoors will not feature the multiple readings, though the bulletin for worship at home will include a rather full complement of readings. Most strikingly will be the absence of the holy supper, the Eucharist, on the days we would normally celebrate it.

That said, there will still be plenty of holy liturgical features for our worshipful engagement outdoors – the blessing of palms and a procession with palms and the reading of the Passion from Mark’s Gospel on Passion Sunday; physically distanced individual absolution and the chanting of Psalm 88 at liturgy’s on Holy Thursday when otherwise we would strip the altar of its adornments; a reading of a portion of the Passion according to John, bidding prayers and procession with a wooden cross with opportunity to adore the wonder of this instrument of salvation on Good Friday; lighting of the new fire and Paschal Candle with Easter Proclamation, and Affirmation of Baptism at the Easter Vigil; a continental Easter Breakfast and worship outdoors along with an Easter Egg hunt for children on Easter Sunday. On each of these occasions, I will offer brief homiletical reflections on the readings and on the significance of each day. There may even be a small ensemble leading some singing on some of the occasions, all the while masked and physically distanced as is appropriate during these times.

For those worshiping at home, the worship resources provided for your domestic use will likewise contain as full a set of observances as possible for worshipful use at home. As usual, the Sunday Worship Videos will feature hymns and anthems led by our choir.

All of this, of course, does not add up to what we would do and celebrate in person in our beloved nave and elsewhere on our church property. But while abbreviated and incomplete, the coming holy days and their ritual enactments for our worship will be means through which the Holy Spirit will draw us more deeply into the holy mysteries, again centered in the death and resurrection of Christ. Our observances and celebrations at home and outdoors will be means through which the Holy Spirit will again generate, regenerate, and renew our faith, our trust in the Trinitarian God whom we see most intimately in the face of Jesus Christ whose last days of earthly ministry and mission are featured in the coming holy days.

May God in Christ bless our worshipful engagements in the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the world’s life and its healing,

Pastor Jonathan Linman