Passion Sunday (Judica me), by the
medieval period, was observed on the fifth Sunday in Lent, that is, the Sunday before Palm Sunday. In Western Europe during the nineteenth century, the entire week was called “Passion Week.” It was characterized by services in which Christ’s suffering and death were liturgically anticipated and remembered. The most ancient witnesses, however, associate this practice not with the fifth Sunday in Lent but with the Saturday immediately before Palm Sunday. For this and other reasons, the liturgical reform movement today, with remarkable consensus, has chosen to see Palm/Passion Sunday as a unit. The distinction between Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the events of Christ’s suffering and death is fully honored, with the greater emphasis being placed on the latter.
Palm/Palm/Passion Sunday is the gateway to Holy Week. It is appropriate that both Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the full account of Christ’s passion, death, and burial be commemorated in the principal worship of the congregation on this day. Where this is not done, Christians are deprived of adequate preparation for the events of Holy Week, and those who attend only Sunday worship will experience a distorted transition from the triumph of Palm Sunday to the victory of an Easter devoid of the reality of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross.
The triumphal entry into Jerusalem is best commemorated in an introduction to the service which includes a congregational procession into the sanctuary. Where this is done, arrangements should be made to accommodate those whose abilities do not include walking easily. When a full procession is not feasible, the ceremony may be held in the chancel with the choir and worship leaders representing the congregation in the procession. At First Congregational Church of Huntley, we will be celebrating with palms the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. Attendees will be welcomed with a road strewn with palm fronds, and will be invited to lay their palms during the worship experience. Come and join us in celebrating the promise of God.
Good Friday is intended to rehearse the passion story of our Savior Jesus Christ. While the mood is solemn, it is also one of hope, looking forward to the great Easter celebration.
Some traditions prepare a service so that the seven last words of Jesus from the cross form the theme for the meditations.In some traditions, a rough-hewn cross is carried into the chancel during the service.
The service offered here is taken from the ancient Christian tradition of the fourth and fifth centuries.17 The structure of the prayers of intercession seeks to capture the need of the penitent to hear the story of the passion and also to pray for the whole of society. In the ancient services, much of the time the congregation was invited to stand to help participants understand the suffering of Jesus on the cross. Many times lay members shared in the leadership by reading the passion story to create dramatic interest.
Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent
for many in the Christian Church. The
forty days of fasting (not counting Sundays)
may begin with the imposition of the ashes on the foreheads of the faithful.
During the moving ancient ceremony, the ashes - from which Ash Wednesday gets it name - were placed on the foreheads of the faithful with the words from Genesis: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." While this service was widely used after the seventh century, there is evidence that such a service originated in Gaul in the sixth century and was at first "confined to public penitents doing penance for grave and notorious sin, whom the clergy tried to comfort and encourage by submitting themselves to the same public humiliation."
While the imposition of the ashes is not widely used in the tradition of the Untied Church of Christ, the services of penitence and confession is used before the celebration of Holy Communion. very often the service provides periods of extended silence for personal prayers and reflection.
Ashes may be placed on the forehead of each worshiper as part of the act of confession and as a sign of morality and penitence. Traditionally, ashes are prepared before the service by burning palm or olive branches and grinding the ashes together with a little water or oil. The leaders thumb is used to transfer the mixture from a shallow bowl to each participants forehead. A towel or napkin is provided for cleaning the hands of the leader.
The Order for Ash Wednesday is designed to begin a service. Following this order, a Service of Word and Sacrament or a Service of the Word begins, omitting the portions of that order which have occurred during the Order for Ash Wednesday.
Maundy is the English form of the Latin word meaning commandment, Jesus' new commandment to "love one another as I have loved you" is the focus of Maundy Thursday. This love is demonstrated in Jesus' example of servanthood and the gift of Jesus' self in Holy Communion.
The theme of servanthood is sometimes included in the observance of Maundy Thursday througha service of foot-washing. The order for the Tenebrae follows the conclusion of Maundy Thursday service of the table in some local churches.
Although some local churches traditionally celebrate the institution of Holy Communion in their usual place of worship, others prefer a less formal setting. This service is intended to be informal and intimate. It may be held in the auditorium or dining hall of the church building and includes a common meal. The service may take place around the tables where the meal is served.
The tables may be clustered around a primary table. The pastor, her or his family who are present, and a deacon or other representative of the church and his or her family may sit at the primary table. A representative may be appointed to each of the other tables. Families are encouraged to sit together, without making single people feel excluded.
A simple table setting is appropriate. A small glass may be at each place setting at every table, and candles may be placed on each table. A small loaf of bread and a pitcher of wine or grape juice for each table may be placed in a central position on the primary table. It is helpful for each participant to have an order of service placed at each plate.
Plan a simple meal which requires no servers except at the beginning. Placing the food and beverage on the table as the people gather allows all to participate fully in the meal and the service.
While Christmas is the initiation of the Sign of God's love for each of us, Easter is the exclamation mark of God's love for us even in our sinful actions.
Easter is God's statement of forgiveness to humans for denying Jesus as God's son, and sacrificing him on a cross.
Easter's resurrection of Jesus is God proclaiming eternal life over death.
Therefore we celebrate God's gift for humanity with worship and praise.
Please join us!
All are welcome!
First Congregational Church of Huntley
of the United church of Christ