Come and See: An Invitation to Holy Week at Plymouth Church
This week’s blog post is simply an invitation: come and see.
Holy Week is better experienced than explained.
First, a little autobiography: I discovered Holy Week as a college student. My Low Church evangelical upbringing treated Easter as a one-off. The notion of commemorating, for example, Maundy Thursday seemed exotic and strange to me. But as a college student—mostly as a favor to my girlfriend—I attended a Maundy Thursday service on the campus that included Tenebrae. I was deeply moved.
I realized I had been missing out.
And then, in seminary, I saw just how rich Holy Week can be. One experience stands out in my memory: On a warm Maundy Thursday evening, wandering around Princeton University, I came to the enormous gothic chapel at the heart of the campus. I hoped to simply slip in and pray, but found a service in progress. A small congregation huddled in the huge candlelit space while a choir sang Allegri’s Miserere Mei.
I have been hooked on Holy Week ever since.
Here is wat I have discovered: Sunday is not sufficient. If you only go to church on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, there is something cheap about the experience –hosannas and hallelujahs without the abandonment, without the agony, without the cross. Easter without Holy Week is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called chap grace. And it is deeply inauthentic; it fails to ring true to our own experience.
So here is my invitation and plea: this year, show up for Holy Week at Plymouth Church. Make the journey. Easter will mean so much more.
How can you do that? Here is a guide to Holy Week at Plymouth Church:
PALM SATURDAY/PALM SUNDAY. Join us at 5:30 on Saturday the 24th, 9 and 11 on Sunday the 25th as we remember Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.
PALM SUNDAY PROCESSION FOR PEACE. It’s a parade with a purpose, as Christians from across our city gather to demonstrate for peace. This year’s procession departs Westminster Presbyterian Church (4114 Allison Ave), and concludes with a worship service at Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
MAUNDY THURSDAY. The all-church dinner begins at 6 pm. (Register here). Then join us at 7:30 in the sanctuary for a moving service of Communion and Tenebrae, featuring the music of the Chancel Choir.
GOOD FRIDAY worship is also in the sanctuary at 7:30. A service of preaching and music, featuring the Matins Choir.
WALK THE LABYRINTH in Waveland Hall from 4-7 on Good Friday and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The 32-foot by 32-foot canvass labyrinth offers a unique opportunity for mediation and prayer.
EASTER VIGIL begins when the Good Friday Service concludes, and continues until sunrise Sunday morning. Keep watch and pray as we wait for Easter to come. (Signs up are on a chart in the hallway outside of the sanctuary).
HOLY SATURDAY worship is at 5:30 in Waveland Hall. On the quietest day of the Christian year—when we remember that Jesus, in solidarity with us, has gone down to the dead—we sit with our grief and wait for what God has promised.
EASTER SUNDAY brings three opportunities for worship: At 6:30, our sunrise service in Waveland Hall is led by the 7th grade confirmation class. Then we gather in the sanctuary at 9:00 (with the Matins Choir) and 11:00 (with the Chancel Choir) and brass for festival worship.
After that, you’re on your own.
It is such a privilege, each year, to make this journey together. I hope you will come along!