Last Sunday we began the great journey of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, we re-enacted Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem by processing with palms from Longfellow square. The service concluded with our taking a role in the passion play, the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. On Maundy Thursday, we replayed the story of Jesus’ last Supper with his disciples, reenact the washing of feet, and prepare for Jesus’ crucifixion with a dramatic stripping of the altar and the keeping watch in “the garden of Gethsemane” created in All Saints Chapel. On Good Friday, we hear again the story of the passion and spend special time in prayer meditation and veneration of the cross. Following the Jewish custom of the day beginning at sundown (think Christmas Eve), Easter begins on Saturday night. Called the Great Vigil of Easter, this service begins in darkness, includes a bonfire in the back of the church and candlelight symbolizing the light of Christ coming into the world, a retelling of the whole of salvation history, renewal of baptismal vows, and the first celebration of the resurrection. We are delighted to continue our tradition of making the vigil a community event and look forward to welcoming participants from 11 local congregations on Saturday night! Each of these opportunities leads to Easter Day. It is most meaningful to see them as one service, telling one story: the greatest story ever told.
In an oddity of history, English is the only language that uses the name for this of Easter (probably coming from Oestre or Ishtar, ancient goddesses of fertility and spring – think bunnies and eggs). In all other languages, the name for this story is a derivation of Pascha or Passover. This is the Christian Passover, our journey from slavery from freedom, from darkness to light, and from death to life. Like the Jewish Passover, this is the story of how God loved humanity so much that he intervened in history to save us – of how God loves you and me so much that he intervened in history to forgive us and even after we denied him, crucified him, and everything else, to give us a fresh start, a new chance, and a new opportunity to begin again.
I invite you to be part of this story. Easter Day is wonderful by itself but is much more so if it comes at the end of a journey and is the conclusion of a whole story. Join us. I invite you to come the services of Holy Week and make this story your own.