MESSIAH UPDATE MESSAGE
Saturday, 4 April 2020
FROM THE RECTOR
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the opening day of the most solemn and holiest week of the entire church year. And personally, it is my favorite week of the entire year, for over the course of these seven days, there is an intensity and laser-like focus on our faith that is unlike any other week. Different from Christmas, this period is not crowded with social and family celebrations and obligations. There are no presents to buy or cards to send - mainly because Hallmark hasn't co-opted this time, probably due to the fact that a "Happy Good Friday" greeting is so very incongruous.
But this year feels very different than any Holy Week I have ever experienced. There will be no gathering on the front steps of the church for the opening of the Palm Sunday service, no grand procession into church with waving of palms and children making "a joyful noise" with tambourines and drums and maracas, no dramatic reading of the Passion with multiple readers. There will be no Maundy Thursday foot washing and reenactment of the Last Supper in the Parish Hall, or procession into the darkened church for stripping of the altar and prayers before the cross. Good Friday will not be marked with a gathering of the faithful for a reading of St. John's Passion, or distribution of Communion blessed the night before. No busy Saturday morning with one last choir rehearsal of the Easter anthems, or decorating and transforming of the sanctuary into a garden of potted flowers and fresh blooms. No young girls showing new Easter dresses; no young boys wearing their first tie and blazer. No Easter egg hunts. No large gatherings of family and friends gathering around the table and sharing in the Easter ham and deviled eggs.
This Holy Week is so very different.
And perhaps, like me, you are experiencing a sense of loss at the prospect of the week to come, a grieving of what should be, and sadness of what will be.
Yes, this Holy Week will be different. But maybe - just maybe - the change in tone of the week ahead will allow us to focus more intently on those things, those moments that break through the sadness of these days and surprise us with reminders of the fact that Christ is with us as we walk with him, journey with him once more along the way of the cross. My hope for all of us is that we are, each day, aware of Christ's presence, and surprised daily by the love of the One who conquered death and promises eternal life.
In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ,
and our God who wants only health and wholeness for his children,
I send you blessings, peace and grace in these uncertain, confusing and anxious times.
LESSONS FOR HOLY WEEK DEVOTIONS
I encourage you to dedicate some time each day in of the week ahead in prayer and scripture as preparation to receive the full joy that comes on Easter morning. Here is the daily Collect and a list of assigned readings for the days of Holy Week.
Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 118:1-2,19-29; and 31:9-16
Matthew 26:14 - 27:66
MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 51:1-20; and 69:1-23
2 Corinthians 1:1-7
TUESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 6; 12; and 94
2 Corinthians 1:8-22
WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK
Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grave to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 55; and 74
2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11
Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 95, 88, and 27
AND DON'T FORGET . . .
THE RECTOR'S HOLY WEEK & EASTER
SERVICES & MESSAGE ON THE WEBSITE
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, the opening day of the holiest week of the Christian year that leads to the most sacred day of the church year, Easter. Since safety and health reasons demand that church services be suspended, the Rector will be recording a service of prayers, scripture and homily which will be posted on the parish website (messiahgwynedd.org). Services for the following days will be found on the website:
Please go the church website (messiahgwynedd.org) on these important holy-days and join with the Rector and your parish family in worship.
OUR BISHOP'S EASTER SERVICE
FROM THE PHILADELPHIA CATHEDRAL
On Easter morning, 10:00am, Bishop Gutierrez will celebrate and preach at a celebration of Holy Eucharist from the Philadelphia Cathedral. All are invited to tune in this festive Easter liturgy by logging on to the Cathedral website: philadelphiacathedral.org.