On Tuesday evening before Palm Sunday, we meet for the solemn service of Tenebrae at 7:30 p.m. This service is a meditation on events of Holy Week told through scripture, psalms, and motets. It ends in darkness with the sound of the stone rolling across the tomb. At the service on March 23, 2010 the choir of St. Peter's Church (54th & Lexington) will combine with the Epiphany Choir to sing for Tenebrae, as both of our parishes worship together.
Our Holy Week journey begins on Palm Sunday at 10:30am, when we gather in our garden with the members of the nearby Jan Hus Presbyterian Church to bless branches of Palm, remember the story of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and begin a procession around our neighborhood, led by a bagpiper. We walk to 73rd Street, where we bring palms to the children and families fighting cancer at Ronald MacDonald House. Then we walk on to Jan Hus Church, where we leave our neighbors with a prayer before returning to Epiphany to resume our traditional service, reading the narrative of the Passion of Jesus, following him to the cross on Calvary.
THE THREE DAYS
On Maundy Thursday, our gatherings begin with a Family Service at 4:00 p.m. Children are invited to sit at a table to act out the Last Supper, with each child getting a chance to play Jesus blessing and breaking the bread. Then, while our Children's Choir sings, the children--and their parents--participate in the ritual of foot-washing. At 6:45 that evening, we serve a simple supper in the back of the church, followed by the liturgy for Maundy Thursday at 7:30 p.m., where we hear the story of the Last Supper, follow Jesus' commandment to wash each other's feet, and gather around the altar for a Eucharist accompanied by sitar music.
On Good Friday, we tell the story of the Passion at noon, the hour Jesus was crucified. Our quartet of professional singers accompanies the service, and we venerate the cross as we meditate on the sacrifice and suffering of our Lord.
On Holy Saturday, we begin the Easter Vigil at 7:30 p.m. in the garden by starting the new fire of Easter and lighting the Paschal Candle from it. We enter the church by candlelight and hear the story of the history of God's people through scripture lessons, hymns, and canticles. We gather at the font for baptisms, and finally, from the font, proclaim that Christ is Risen. The lights turn on, highlighting the beauty of our lily-bedecked sanctuary in celebration of Christ's resurrection. We hear the Easter story, share Eucharist, and share a chocolate feast after the service.
On Easter Sunday, we enter with our children carrying the "Alleluia" banner that they made in Sunday School and hid on the last Sunday of the Epiphany. It is attached to our altar as we share our Easter joy with many of our neighbors in a service full of music and excitement. The service ends with our choir and congregation singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Afterward, our children participate in the Epiphany Easter Egg Hunt in our garden.