For millennia, God’s people have kept their faith alive by rehearsing their story. From Palm Sunday through Easter Day, Christians retell the story of our liberation from slavery to Sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The drama, as re-told at Watts Street, is in four acts, all of which are essential to the story. We are all members of the Cast.
Act I: Palm Sunday, March 20, begins with the Service of Palms, remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The service will open with musical settings of the acclamation “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessèd is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” first by organ and handbells, then by the choirs and handbells. The Children’s Choirs will sing. The Chancel Choir will offer Canadian composer Healey Willan’s “Hosannah to the Son of David” at the Offertory. We have only just begun our journey to Holy Week and to the Cross.
Act II: On Maundy Thursday, March 24, a Service of Foot Washing, commemorating Jesus’ act of service and humility towards his disciples at the Last Supper, will take place at 5:30 in the Sanctuary. This service is especially good for families with young children, but all ages are invited. At 7:00 in the Sanctuary, we will again recall the events of the Last Supper by gathering for a service of Holy Communion, which is for Christians a family meal and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. The service will conclude with Olivier Messiaen’s “The Celestial Banquet,” based on the text “Whosoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I in him.” (John 6:57)
Act III: On Good Friday evening, March 25, at 7 p.m., we gather again to recall Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion as we move silently through experiential stations of guided prayer and reflection. The service ends in darkness as the Christ Candle is removed and extinguished, reminding us of Jesus’ death and removal from our sight for three days. Jesus, and we, have reached the Cross.
Act IV: On Easter Day, March 27, the Sunday of the Resurrection, we gather yet again, but this time we, like Mary Magdalene, find the tomb empty. We rejoice because we have encountered the Risen Lord. Act IV includes the return of the Paschal Shout, “Alleluia” (and bells!) with festive music for congregation (including hymns and Handel’s “Hallelujah”), Chancel Choir (including Beethoven’s “Hallelujah”), trumpet, and organ. Bring an offering of fresh flowers for the decorating of the Cross. Additional flowers will be provided in the foyers. Again and again and again I say, “Rejoice!” See you at rehearsal.
– Tom Bloom