Easter Week at St. John’s Parish
Easter Sunday marks the beginning of the great fifty-day feast celebrating the Resurrection of Christ and all that means for us, leading to the launch of the Christian Church and mission on Pentecost. Today Jesus was alive and showed himself to his disciples, and many more others during the next forty days before ascending, and then followed ten more days until Pentecost.
Come, with high and holy hymning,
hail our Lord's triumphant day;
not one dark-some cloud is dimming
yonder glorious morning ray,
breaking o'er the purple east,
symbol of our Easter feast.
He is risen, he is risen!
He hath opened heaven's gate:
we are free from sin's dark prison,
risen to a holier state;
and a brighter Easter beam
on our longing eyes shall stream.
He is risen, he is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice:
he has burst his three days' prison;
let the whole wide earth rejoice:
death is conquered, we are free,
Christ has won the victory.
Come, ye sad and fearful-hearted,
with glad smile and radiant brow!
Lent's long shadows have departed;
Jesus' woes are over now,
and the passion that he bore--
sin and pain can vex no more.
Rev. Greg Snyder. My prayer for us is drawn from our reading from the Book of Hebrews:
19 Therefore, brothers [and sisters], since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
“It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Good Friday Sermon. Rev. Greg Snyder
It is a very interesting aspect of John’s Gospel that there is no mention of the crowd that stood on Golgotha watching the crucifixion. In contrast, Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 27) says,
There is a great deal of interaction with the crowd and much is made of it in Matthew’s Gospel. Soldiers “kept watch” over Jesus, passersby “derided” Him “wagging their heads” at Him, the chief priests, scribes, and elders mocked Him and His words, and the Roman centurion witnessed that “Truly this was the Son of God.” And, of course, the women of his group were “looking from a distance” and weeping. In like manner, (Mark’s Gospel 15:22-41) speaks of the abuse hurled by bystanders and religious people.
Luke’s Gospel is similar, but it is only in that Gospel that the account of the crucifixion ends with this passage,
48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
The crowd that had just wagged their heads and mocked God Himself, once the deed was done, had “returned home beating their breasts.” An amazing turn of events, not unlike what we saw on Palm Sunday compared with earlier on Good Friday…from euphoria and “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him” and now back again to realizing that “Truly this was the Son of God.”
I reflect on this in response to what I saw earlier this week in Paris, France. One of the greatest Christian churches in the whole world built in the 12th and 13th centuries, so some 800 years old, nearly burned to the ground on Monday. And I was touched and a bit surprised by the outpouring of pain and sadness by the French people, and even those throughout Europe…The people of Paris lined the streets and the river Seine as they watch the great conflagration.
And so, it is with us also. Every year we memorialize this week, Christ’s pilgrimage to the cross, and every year I go home beating my breast after this worship service. And it is not because I think there is no hope, because I know how this will end up in just a few days. But, it is because I have not really taken Christ’s call on my life and His sacrifice for me as seriously as I should. And all too often I too am standing at a distance watching these things, and not involved with the life of the Church and surely not involved with Christ’s calling on my life.
The beginning of the great three days of the Pascal celebration leading to the resurrection at the Easter Vigil. The evening setting ends with the stripping of the Altar and all decorative furnishings are removed from the church in recognition of the despair and death to come.
Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you. I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you. Peace is my last gift to you, my own peace I now leave with you; peace which the world cannot give, I give to you. By this shall the world know that you are my disciples: That you have love for one another.
Holy week begins with Palm Sunday or Sunday of the Passion. The liturgy begins in the church yard with a blessing of the palms and the congregation procession to the church to commemorate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The service reading includes the complete story of the Passion. As Father Greg spoke of, it’s a schizophrenic day, between the crowd’s joyful greeting of their king shouting “Hosanna” and then their condemnation with “Crucify him!”
Our Video from Palm Sunday in the Church Yard.
Saturday Cleaning and Making Palm Crosses
Thank You to everyone who came out to get everything ready, especially to The Boy Scout Troop 76, the Cub Scout Troop 42 along with their leaders and parents who worked alongside our congregation to ensure that our Church grounds looked great for Palm Sunday and Easter.