Clergy Reflection – March 23, 2018

Beginning with Palm Sunday (March 25th this year), the church calendar invites us into a week-long journey which strives to renew our awareness of elements of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life (full schedule of services at St. John’s is posted on the website: ).  I want to say a few words about some of these especially meaningful services.
On Palm Sunday, our liturgy begins with the blessing of the palms (please pick up your palm when you pick up your service leaflet at the church door), remembering those who cheered Jesus as he arrived for Passover in Jerusalem, full of hope for their beloved teacher and friend now finally being recognized by the religious authorities.  The liturgy soon reminds us of what actually transpired, as the Passion Narrative is read in choral fashion to encourage all of us to engage in the story.  The Holy Communion then reminds us that in and through all things, Jesus the Christ of God is ever present.
On Maundy Thursday, the 9:00 AM service in the chapel begins the worship of the day.  At 7:00 PM, Holy Communion is celebrated in the church, and we call to remembrance two “mandates” (from whence comes the word “maundy”) – that we are to be servants of one another and that we are to break bread and share the cup when we gather in Jesus’ name.  Following the service, a night watch is kept at the Chantry altar until 12:00 Noon on Good Friday, at which time the Prayer Book liturgy of Good Friday is offered, including the receiving of the reserved sacrament of Maundy Thursday for those wishing to do so.  It is in essence one liturgy spread across two days, including Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
On Good Friday at 12:00 Noon, the annual Ecumenical Service for Good Friday is held.  The St. John’s community has a long history of participating in ecumenical services with other churches in our community at this time of year.  The Good Friday service will be hosted at Cornerstone Church on School Street in Manchester.  Luther Zeigler and Laurel Deery are participants in this ecumenical liturgy.
On Good Friday at 7:30 PM, the meditative monastic service of Tenebrae (“shadows”) is offered.  This is both a worship service and a presentation of the St. John’s Concert Series.  It promises to be a beautiful and reflective service recalling the lamentations of Jesus’ followers after the crucifixion had been accomplished.
The Celebrations of Easter proclaim the good news of God’s victory over the powers of the world which have been remembered throughout Holy Week.  Easter services include:
The Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday, March 31, at 7:00 PM.  This ancient liturgy includes the blessing of the new light of Easter, lessons recounting the story of salvation, renewal of baptismal vows and Holy Communion.
Ecumenical Sunrise Service at approximately 6:25 AM on Singing Beach. This brief service includes hymns, a trumpet, prayers and a brief Easter message.
Easter Day Service at 9:00 AM with festival music and Easter message.  This service is followed by an Easter egg hunt this year.
Easter Day Service at 11:00 AM with festival music and Easter message.
I hope you will want to be part of this spiritual journey this year.
– Stephen