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Easter Services

posted 28 Mar 2018, 03:19 by Richard Ryder

Holy Week and Easter marks the height of the Christian faith. In the services of Holy week we deepen our relationship with God as we reflect upon the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. By so doing we prepare ourselves fully for the joy of Easter Day.
I hope that as many of you as possible will be able to join in with the services of Holy Week which is a deeply spiritual time and heightens our expectations for Easter.
Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week and on this Sunday the Church commemorates Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. An important part of Palm Sunday is the procession, because this reminds us not only of what happened then, but it is also an act of praise to Christ the King who reigns and triumphs on the cross and it expresses our own readiness to take up our cross and follow our crucified and risen Lord. Palm Crosses are carried in the procession in joyful praise.
Once in the church the mood changes as we recall how the shouts of Hosanna gave way to the cries of Crucify. The Gospel of the Passion is read in place of the sermon and the restrained mood prepares us for Holy Week.
If you are able, then please assemble on the village green near the War Memorial ready to begin the service at 9.45am which continues then in St Mary’s Church.
On Wednesday in Holy Week Holy Communion is celebrated and a short address given. The readings and address continue to set our minds on the Lord’s Passion preparing us for Good Friday.
M aundy Thursday marks the beginning of the end. From this point on the worship is a continuum through to Easter. The Jewish beginning of the day (in the evening) unites the events of Maundy Thursday with the death of Christ the next afternoon. The mood is taken from John 13.34-35 where Jesus at the Last Supper tells them: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ Not only does this service mark the institution of the Lord’s Supper, but with the washing of feet it marks the theme of love and service. After the sermon, the feet of ‘twelve disciples’ are washed, to re-enact Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet at the last supper.
At the end of the Eucharist the Reserved Sacrament is taken to the Altar of Repose in the Memorial Chapel and the high altar is stripped of its linen. All other ornamentation and decoration is also removed from the chancel. This is an extremely moving service and leads into The Watch during which time you are invited to spend some time in prayer in church, perhaps in sight of the altar of repose as we remember the disciples who attempted to keep watch whilst Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. You may like to visit church at some time later in the evening to experience the presence of the Lord and prepare for Good Friday. The Watch continues until midnight.
There is no formal end to the Eucharist: leave the church when you are ready, return as you wish.
Good Friday begins for the children at 10.30am when they meet in St Nicholas for their workshop morning, as they follow the Passion of Christ through craft work, stories and other activities.
All are invited and encouraged to find the opportunity to spend some time in St Mary’s church and experience its stillness during this day of our Lord’s crucifixion.
The hour at the cross begins at 2pm. Using scripture, hymns, poems, prayers and silence we reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The prayers of Good Friday bring to the foot of the Cross our prayers for the Church and the world. Then the Sacrament, consecrated at the Maundy Thursday Eucharist is brought to the altar and we receive Holy Communion. A hymn and prayer follow and then all depart in silence.
Easter Eve is a quiet day in the morning and afternoon as we remember Jesus lying in the tomb. Both churches will be decorated to prepare for the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection.
The Easter Vigil begins at 8.30pm as we gather outside the west door. Here takes place the Liturgy of Light when the new fire and Pascal Candle are blessed. We then process into the dark church following Christ our Light and the light is passed to the people’s candles. The ancient hymn of Easter praise in celebration of the resurrection, the Exultet, is sung. Readings from scripture follow and then the Gloria is sung, the altar candles are lit and the lights are put on as we celebrate joyfully our Lord’s resurrection. We then renew our baptism vows together before receiving communion.
Easter Day follows our normal pattern of Sunday services, where we celebrate the presence of our Risen Lord with great joy. The new Pascal Candles are lit in each church to celebrate the victory of The Light of Christ over death and darkness.
The 10am family Eucharist is followed by an Easter Egg hunt for the young people in the churchyard.