St Giles Online
Holy Week and Easter 2022
It is still uncertain when Christians first began to make an annual (as opposed to a weekly) memorial of the death and resurrection of Christ. This Pascha (a word derived indirectly from pesach, Hebrew ‘Passover’) was at first a night-long vigil, followed by the celebration of Holy Communion at cock-crow, and all the great themes of redemption were included within it: incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection, glorification. Over time, the Pascha developed into the articulated structure of Holy Week and Easter.
Through participation in the whole sequence of services, the Christian shares in Christ’s own journey, from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the empty tomb on Easter morning. The procession with palms, which was already observed in Jerusalem in the fourth century, is accompanied by the reading or singing of the Passion Narrative, in which the whole story of the week is anticipated, as happened on Sunday at Holy Communion.
Maundy Thursday (from mandatum, ‘commandment’, because of the use of John 13.34 in the Antiphon) contains a rich complex of themes: humble Christian service expressed through Christ’s washing of his disciples’ feet, the institution of Holy Communion, the perfection of Christ’s loving obedience through the agony of Gethsemane. This year we are holding a simple service of Sung Holy Communion with a short reflection in place of the sermon by our Poet in Residence, Jay Hulme. After the Prayer of Thanksgiving (following Communion) the altar will be stripped and the church will be plunged into darkness. At this point ‘the vigil’ begins and we recall Jesus request to his followers ‘Could you not watch with me one hour?’ People may remain in church for the vigil (one hour) or may leave in silence at any point.
After keeping vigil Thursday passes into Good Friday The church remains stripped of all decoration and we meet together for Sung Mattins and The Litany at 11:00. The service is followed by hot crossed buns and tea. At 12:30 Jay is leading a workshop on his book ‘The Backwater Sermons’, anyone is welcome to stay on for that if they wish.
After Good Friday the church continues bare and empty through the following day, which is a day without a liturgy: there can be no adequate way of recalling the being dead of the Son of God, other than silence and desolation. But within the silence there grows a sense of peace and completion, and then rising excitement as we come to the threshold of the glory that is Easter Day.
On Easter Day we shall gather for the 11:00 service outside by The Resurrection Gate and, as last year, we shall enter church together as witnesses to the resurrection and the life everlasting.
Maundy Thursday 14th April Sung Holy Communion | 18:30 St. Giles Quartet and St Giles Choir Good Friday 15th April Sung Matins and The Litany | 11:00 St. Giles Quartet Easter Day 17th April Online Matins | 10:00 Festal Holy Communion (beginning at the resurrection gate) | 11:00 Festal Evensong | 18:30
Thank you in advance to Zi Ken for making the church look so glorious and to Jonathan, the quartet and the choir for making the church sound so glorious! I look forward to sharing this solemn and sacred time with you all.