We are a church that takes Holy Week very seriously. We see it as an opportunity to live in solidarity with Jesus’ story, to know Christ and his suffering more deep, so that we will also know the power of his resurrection. We have many opportunities to worship during Holy Week. Here’s a rundown:
Sunday, March 24 @ 11am: Palm Sunday
We’ll gather at our usual worship time to celebrate and remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the events the followed. Our service will begin with the “Liturgy of the Palms” and will transition to the “Liturgy of the Passion” when we’ll hear the story of Jesus’ crucifixion from Luke’s gospel interspersed with songs about the cross.
Thursday, March 28 @ 7pm: Maundy Thursday – the “Love Dinner”
The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word that begins Jesus’ words (in English) “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.” Jesus gave this commandment to his followers while in the upper room during what we call the Last Supper. We’ll gather to remember Jesus’ final meal with his disciples before going to the cross by first having an “Agape Supper” (or “Love Dinner”). Please bring bread, fruit, or cheese (or any other simple finger food) to contribute to the meal. We’ll then transition to a celebration of the Lord’s Supper and then finish on a somber note, anticipating Christ’s crucifixion.
Friday, March 29 @ 7am, 9am, 12pm, and 3pm: The Royal Hours
The Royal Hours are a set of prayers prayed a specific times of the day commemorating different events of Scripture. The first hour (7am) celebrates creation. The third hour (9am) celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The sixth hour (noon) commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, and the ninth hour (3pm) commemorates his death. There is a long tradition in churches of praying all four of the Royal Hours on Good Friday. The Upper Room’s worship space will be open all day on Friday beginning at 7am for anyone to come and spend as much time as they like in prayer and meditation. We’ll also offer a simple liturgy at each of the Royal Hours.
Friday March 29 @ Sunset (7:40pm) – Good Friday Tenebrae Service – “The Service of Shadows”
At this service, we encounter the darkness of our world and our own part in crucifying Jesus Christ the Light of the World. We’ll hear the story of Jesus’ crucifixion read from John’s gospel. We’ll enter more and more deeply into the darkness of the world’s (and our own) rejection of the Christ as the sun continues to set and as we progressively extinguish the lights and candles in the room.
Saturday March 30 @ Sunset (7:41pm) – The Easter Vigil
On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the first appearances of the risen Jesus, which happened at sunrise on Sunday morning. At the Easter vigil, we celebrate the time of the actual resurrection from the tomb, which would have happened at some point in the hours of the night, and was witnessed by angels. This service picks up where Tenebrae left off. We begin by “relighting” the church, first with the Christ candle. We’ll then listen to a series of stories from the Old Testament that point to God’s faithfulness, and foreshadow the resurrection – Stories that may have been in the minds of Jesus’ first disciples as they mourned his death. Vigils often go through the night, but this one will “pause” after about an hour and conclude at our sunrise service.
Sunday March 31 @ Dawn (6:39am) – The Easter Vigil Ends – Sunrise Service
**Weather permitting, this service will be in Frick Park at the Blue Slide Entrance (Corner of Beechwood and Nicholson)**
Our Easter Vigil picks up and concludes Sunday morning just as the sun begins to rise. We’ll gather in Frick Park (weather permitting) for singing, hearing the story of the first Easter in Luke’s gospel, and for renewing our baptism vows. It’s through our baptism that we most truly know Christ in his suffering and rising.
Sunday March 31 @ 11am – Easter Service
And finally, our journey to the cross and the empty tomb will finish at our usual Sunday worship time. We’ll have special music, hear the Easter story from John’s gospel, and celebrate a baptism!