This Sunday our Lenten observance changes tone as we enter into Passiontide, focusing on Jesus’ Way of the Cross. We prepare to walk with him and the disciples into Jerusalem and to all that will happen in the days leading up to his death on Good Friday. The Church itself reflects this sombre mood, with crosses and images veiled; our hymns place particular emphasis on the self-giving and the glory of the Cross.
This first week of Passiontide prepares us for the keeping of Holy Week, the most important of the Church’s year. Its principal liturgies are full of drama as we relive the story of salvation. Christians everywhere are encouraged if at all possible to attend worship on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Eve and Easter Day. You will find times of the in-church and online liturgies elsewhere in the bulletin.
Palm Sunday: we re-enact Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with the Gospel crowds waving palms and singing Hosanna, as we process around the block and into the church. Today we then listen to the dramatic reading of the last hours of Jesus according to St Matthew.
Maundy Thursday: we gather to commemorate Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples, following his servant example with the washing of feet. After feeding on him in Holy Communion, we walk with Jesus and the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, to watch and pray.
Good Friday: we come to stand at the foot of the cross, as Jesus gives himself for the life of the world. Today we hear St John’s account of the crucifixion, with its triumphant cry, It is finished! We are invited to come forward to reverence the crucifix, showing our love in return for his. There are Solemn Prayers for the Church and the World, followed by Holy Communion.
Easter Eve: the Great Vigil is the first proclamation of the Resurrection. New fire and the Paschal Candle are lit, the Exultet, the great Easter hymn of praise is sung, we listen once again to the story of salvation through the Hebrew Bible and the Resurrection Gospel. This year we hope to baptise two adults as we renew our baptismal vows, and then we celebrate with joy the First Mass of Easter.
Easter Day: our joy in the Resurrection continues as we offer the Solemn Mass with procession, glorious music, and a further opportunity to renew baptismal vows, proclaiming the new life we share with God’s people of all times and place, and with our crucified and risen Lord.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you! By your holy cross you have redeemed the world.