Holy Week 2020 St. Augustine’s Anglican Church
I have been thinking of Holy Week a lot since our cities have gone into social isolation. The story of Jesus’ Passion includes such physicality, grit, intimacy, and tenderness that online expressions will just not cut it alone. I believe the best solution, my friends, is that we hold our Holy Week commemoration in our homes. I want to say up front that this will be strange for the Cranes – Church has always been very helpful for us because we are not terribly demonstrative people in our faith and introverts all of us. We will feel uncomfortable. However, this whole COVID-19 thing has pulled us all out of desired comfort. It will be ok. I also want to say up front that while we have at St. Augustine’s some families that engage church all together, some of you live with spouses or family members that do not practice. Some of you are living alone. I will include some suggestions of how that might be negotiated in the plan below. You will note below that Maundy Thursday will take the most preparation and activity in your homes.
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Holy Week is the center of our Christian Church Year. We walk with Jesus through his last days before crucifixion. We do not rush quickly into remembering Easter. Every Sunday of the year is a commemoration of the Resurrection, and yet for these few days of Holy Week we remember how the disciples did not know, how they were so confused, so sorrowful, so afraid. We walk with Jesus in his own journey, attentive to his sufferings, attentive to his words, attentive to his posture. We walk with Jesus and are attentive to God in our own life – what sufferings do we bear, what confusions do we carry, what sorrows do we dwell in - what is God speaking to us in these days? As we submit ourselves to the way of Holy Week, we hear from God that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We hear from God that there is no darkness in our world that can overcome us. We hear from God that death is not to be feared. We hear from God that the weak are remembered and courage is rewarded. We remember the word from the cross that even in our unknowing, God speaks forgiveness (“Father, forgive them…”). We remember the word of recognition given to the repentant criminal. Holy Week encompasses the whole of our life and our entire spiritual outlook in the world. I invite you this year to keep with the St. Augustine’s community these most tremendous days.
Description: Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey: here is Israel’s king, riding in great humility – not like any other king. Following this triumphal entry, we remember Jesus’ last days through a full reading of his Passion story.
Items needed: local branches Local branches: The last few years at the church, we have been using local ‘palms’ instead of shipping palm fronds from overseas. This year you may want to go for a walk, forage your backyard, or ask a friend to gather for you a few budded branches or cedar boughs to adorn your home. During the Sunday liturgy we will sing and wave the fronds remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. (Assuming you are trimming these branches from a live tree, use a sharp branch clipper and, if you don’t feel too flaky, thank the tree and explain what you are using the branch for.)
Online: 10am we will stream the Sunday liturgy on Facebook as usual. Join us!
· A trip out to Gold Bar park is a great place to collect branches of pussy willows this time of year. A whole-family affair!
· Look up online how to fold palm crosses. Use a long and thin strip of paper instead of a palm frond. · Talk about the story behind Palm Sunday as a family so the kids know what is coming.
Online: Tune in to noon prayers each of these days through zoom (same link as the Tuesday Thursday chats) :Link
A daily reflection will be sent out as well on these days.
Description: Maundy Thursday marks the Last Supper and footwashing that Jesus shared with his friends, his prayer in Gethsemane, and the disciples scattering into the night.
1. Preparations for a meal
2. Preparations for washing feet: bowl, towel, pitcher
3. A cross
4. A black cloth or napkin to cover the cross
1. THE MEAL: As possible, plan a nice meal. Imagine you are inviting your friends over (you are not of course due to AHS regulations!). What would you make for them? Be fancy. You are, in fact, inviting a friend to join you: the Holy One of Israel. Your preparation is your prayer. Read the following at the beginning of the meal:
This is the day that Christ the Lamb of God gave himself into the hands of those who would slay him. This is the day that Christ gathered with his disciples in the upper room. This is the day that Christ took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet, giving us an example that we should do to others as he has done to us. This is the day that Christ our God gave us a holy feast, that when we eat his holy bread and drink his holy cup we proclaim his Holy Sacrifice and partake in his resurrection, that at the last day we may reign with him in heaven. As we remember that holy meal, we ask God’s blessing on this meal and these people that we may live always in mutual service and love. We remember Jesus’ real presence wherever we gather in his name. Amen.
2. FOOT WASHING AFTER THE MEAL: This will be very weird for some. Remember perhaps how you were bathed as an infant, how you bathed your children. It is very much worth doing and should not be omitted. After the meal, gather the bowl, towel, pitcher and wash at least one person’s foot. You may wash everyone’s feet or take turns washing.
a. IF YOU ARE ALONE OR UNABLE TO BE EXPLICIT IN FAITH IN YOUR FAMILY.
i. You may very well wash your own feet in a ceremonial way to remember this moment – “Christ has no hands but yours.”
ii. As well, or in place of this, you may make some act of service to someone in your friend/family circle. Write someone an encouraging note; make a donation to a homeless shelter; thank a health care worker with an email or letter; drop off some food on a neighbour’s porch; Make a neighbour a craft or cookies. These are also ways we symbolically “wash one another’s feet.” Even if the person receiving has no idea why you are writing the note, YOU know why you are doing it. You might simply say, “This is a special time of year where we remember Jesus’ service to his friends, and so I chose to do something for you.”
3. THE READING: After the footwashing is done, read the following. At the end of the reading, place the black cloth on the cross and leave it in a prominent place in your home *through until Easter morning.
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples. Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’ Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’
· The beautiful thing about a simple home liturgy is that it is tactile. There is food. There is water. There is something to look at. Kids get this. They will ask questions. Do your best to answer. Imagine what this all would be like. Just tell the story.
· Kids would probably love to wash your feet! Do not deny it, maybe invite it. Let them engage how they like.
· Involve kids in making the dinner. Talk about how it is like you are inviting Jesus over for dinner. Ask them what they would do to prepare.
· If, after everything, they still have interest, perhaps you could talk as a family about what nice thing you could do for a neighbour. Write a card? Bake cookies? Etc. This would be a great time to do that.
Description: Good Friday marks the death of Jesus. We treat this day very simply as a death. As we participate in the full sweep of Holy Week, we do not hide from this death, or skip over it to ‘get on to Easter.’ We just let it be. We remember that God is here and we remember how the disciples must have felt not knowing anything about what the next three days would bring.
On the zoom meeting:
· There will be photos of the stations of the cross shown and a sonnet for each station. Anyone may unmute themselves and read the sonnet.
· Some music will be played between the stations.
· (Note: Beautifully, the last sonnet is made up of the first lines of each of the other sonnets, to remind us how Jesus’ story is a united whole.)
· This is a simple, yet effective engagement with Jesus’ death. The space of the service is meditative and reflective, yet within an hour in length.
· The photos and music may be enough to gather kids for this moment.
· There are also some Godly Play resources from Holy Trinity (on the last church newsletter) that would be very well suited to telling the story of this day with kids.
This is a day to be together as a family or to do simple wholesome things. A few suggestions below:
Description: On this traditional first service of Easter, we will mark the event with a simple liturgy of the Eucharist. While only the priest and attendant will partake physically, there is a long Anglo-Catholic practice of “Spiritual Communion” when distance, or other circumstances prevent a person from receiving the bread and wine. More information on that here: https://www.staugustinesedmonton.com/blog/a-practice-of-spiritual-communion
Description: We enter fully the news of Jesus’ resurrection in song, in scripture, in word, and in liturgy. Join us in this celebration! **NOTE: At breakfast, you are invited to uncover the cross you covered Maundy Thursday. You might like to say the following (From the Easter sermon of St. John Chrysostom), or something like it:
Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!
Online stream: https://www.facebook.com/staugustinesedmonton/
Remember, the Easter season is 50 days of celebration.
We will mark this together in our liturgies.
Bless you in your Holy Week journey.