Lent and Easter
Lent is observed during the 40-days (excluding Sundays) that lead up to Easter. During Lent, we take time for turning and returning to God. We self-examine, and reflect honestly about where we have been and where we would like to grow in our lives and in our relationships with others and God. We ask for God’s help in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
Lent officially begins on Ash Wednesday. We use ashes and Communion to observe this beginning at an intimate service in Pilgrim Hall. Ashes are placed on our foreheads by the Pastor accompanied by the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” We say prayers of confession and reflection, hear scripture and meditate, and sing hymns to observe this holy day.
Lenten Vespers Services
We offer two Lenten Vespers services. Vespers is the sunset evening prayer service, a tradition observed by Christians throughout the world. We gather for short services to pray, hear beautiful organ pieces, and receive Communion. The liturgy is often taken from books of Daily Offices of Prayer, and thus we join with other Christians worldwide in an ecumenical spirit by praying as one.
We commemorate the day Jesus triumphantly entered the holy city of Jerusalem with crowds waving palm branches and crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” We begin our Palm Sunday service outside and process into the sanctuary waving palms. Palm Sunday ushers in Holy Week, the special days we recall the Last Supper and Betrayal, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ commandment to “love one another even as I have loved you” is the focus of Maundy Thursday. This is demonstrated in Jesus’ example of servanthood when he washed the feet of his disciples and in the gift of Jesus’ self in Communion. We praise God for revealing Christ’s presence among us in this night of goodbyes. We observe Communion and hear scripture readings during a Tenebrae portion of the service.
We encounter the stark reality of Jesus’ crucifixion and death as the focus of Good Friday is the Passion narrative. On this solemn day we consider how we can be present in a world God has redeemed and loves. We leave this service in darkness and silence with our Christ candle extinguished. Yet, we depart with the light of Christ in our hearts, knowing that love prevails and a new day filled with new hope is on the horizon.
Easter is the most prominent holy day in the Christian tradition when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Easter, we rejoice that love always has and always will win. We celebrate the victory of life over death. We hear uplifting and triumphant music, sing and shout our Hallelujahs, receive Communion, and declare that Christ is risen indeed!