The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday
Also called Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday always falls on the Sunday before Easter. It commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem before his trial
and crucifixion. The crowds of people who were in Jerusalem for Passover lay down their cloaks and waved small palm branches in front of him, proclaiming him as the messianic king. Palm Sunday is marked by the distribution of blessed palm leaves tied
Tenebrae, which is Latin for “shadows”, is celebrated on the eve of Maundy Thursday. The liturgy of Tenebrae is characterized by the gradual extinguishing of
candles, and the reading and chanting of Psalms and Lamentations. After each reading, as the candles are extinguished one candle at a time, we remember the struggle of God’s people. By the end of the liturgy the only light left in the sanctuary is the Christ Candle which is then take away as Christ was taken away to be crucified. The Congregation sits together in darkness and silence until a loud sound is heard signifying the earthquake at Christ’s crucifixion. The Christ Candle is then returned to the gathered congregation and the people leave in silence.
Maundy Thursday is celebrated on the Thursday before Easter. Christians remember it as the day of the Last Supper which began the practice of celebrating theEucharist. The night of Maundy Thursday recalls the night on which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. The word “maundy” comes from the command (mandate) given by Christ at the Last Supper, that we should love one another. The service includes the ceremonial washing of feet as a gesture of humility and in remembrance of Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples. The altar coverings and liturgical ornaments are removed from the sanctuary after the Eucharist. The "stripping of the altar" symbolizes the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and the stripping of Jesus by the soldiers prior to his crucifixion.Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of the Easter Tridium, which consists of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday and marks the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Good FridayGood Friday is the Friday of Holy Week and is traditionally a time of fasting and penance, commemorating the anniversary of Christ's crucifixion and death. Thesacrificial death of Christ, with the resurrection, comprises the heart of the Christian faith. The Service of Anointing for healing is offered to those who wish prayers for themselves or others. Communion is about healing and renewal, and the laying on of hands and anointing opens us more fully to the healing power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Holy SaturdayThe Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil, is the first official liturgical celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. It is held in the evening of Holy Saturday—but is considered to be the first celebration of Easter Day. The vigil begins between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Sunday outside the church, where the Easter fire is blessed by the celebrant. This new fire symbolizes the radiance of the Risen Christ dispelling the darkness of sin and death. The Paschal candle is blessed and then lit. The candle is carried by a priest, or some other liturgical minister, through the church, itself in complete darkness, stopping three times to chant an acclamation – “The Light of Christ”. As the candle proceeds through the church, all present receive candles which are lit from the Paschal candle. As this symbolic "Light of Christ" spreads throughout those gathered, the darkness is decreased. Once the candle has been placed on its stand in the sanctuary, the lights in the church are switched on and the assembly extinguishes their candles.
The Sunday of the Resurrection - Easter DayEaster is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to Christian scripture, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion and we celebrate this resurrection on Easter Sunday. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.