Spirituality & Theology, BeyondBelief

Holy Week

Image: The Washing of the Feet by Ghislaine Howard (2004), Collection-Oxford Brookes University.

Holy Week is the most consequential time of the liturgical year in the Christian tradition. Beginning the Sunday before Easter with Palm Sunday, it is a week commemorating the final days in the life of Jesus, ending with his purported resurrection on Easter Sunday. While some faith communities participate in worshipful remembrances every day during Holy Week, the most well known are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter itself. At All Souls this year, we will be worshipping together on these three days.

Maundy Thursday is the traditional remembrance in the Christian tradition of the night of the Last Supper of Jesus. It is the night Jesus instituted the sacrament of communion, and is also the night he was betrayed by Judas and turned over to the authorities for crucifixion.

It is also the night that, prior to eating, Jesus stooped down and washed the feet of his disciples. In this act, Jesus demonstrated most clearly his vision for leadership: that of a servant, acting in love, willing to embrace vulnerability and weakness in order to serve others.

For two thousand years, Maundy Thursday has been remembered by the act of washing feet. This year, we too will gather together for worship, and to wash one another’s feet on Thursday, April 13 in the Chapel. In doing so, we will not only embrace our own vulnerability, we will see the power of weakness and service, and the role being a servant plays in building a better, more just, and loving community.

The next day, Good Friday, is the darkest and most somber day in the Christian tradition. It is the day on which Jesus was executed, and his body laid to rest. No matter the specific details of what Jesus did or did not say on the Cross, or who was there, the Christian Bible agrees that Jesus died on the Cross at noon on Friday.

Our Good Friday service at All Souls will be a Tenebrae service, held in the evening after the sun has set. We will come together at 7:00 p.m. Tenebrae comes from the Latin word for “silence,” and describes our service well, which will follow the tradition of a progressive extinguishing of candles, a practice stretching back to at least the fourth century. The service attempts to provide a ritual container in which you are invited to deliberately enter into “the darkness.”

Good Friday epitomizes the darkness of sorrow, suffering, and loss. But it is followed closely by Easter Sunday, a day of rebirth and renewal and, yes, resurrection! Easter is the day Jesus’ followers claimed he rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. No matter one’s views and beliefs about Jesus Christ, there is no doubt that Easter is time of celebration of the renewal and life that spring brings after the darkness and cold of winter. In all of our services we will celebrate Easter. Communion will follow our Traditional and Contemporary services and we will hold a meditation following our Humanist Hour.

Holy Week is an important time of the year, not just for Christians, but for people of all beliefs. By loosely following the order of the Church calendar, we are able to probe and contemplate the realities of betrayal, loss, suffering, vulnerability and death, which all exist alongside life and beauty and renewal and love. Join us during Holy Week at All Souls Unitarian Church this year to experience this journey in worship with us!

All Souls Holy Week Schedule: 

Maundy Thursday Foot Washing Service
Thursday, April 13 | 7:00 p.m. | Chapel

Tenebrae Service
Friday, April 14 | 7:00 p.m. | Sanctuary

Easter Sunday

10:00 a.m. Traditional
11:30 a.m. Contemporary
11:30 a.m. Humanist Hour

Celebrate Easter in one or all of our Easter services! Communion will follow the Traditional and Contemporary services or join us for meditation following the Humanist Hour. Our Cherub and Children’s Choirs will sing in the Traditional Service and our Youth and New D choirs will sing in the Contemporary Service.
It wouldn’t be Easter without Easter eggs!
11:10 a.m. | Pre-K and Younger Egg Hunt in the Memorial Garden
11:20 a.m. | Older children Egg Hunt on the west playground.
Childcare available for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers during the services.

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