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Holy Week at St John's 2017
with accompanying notes by Canon Gavin Kirk, Archdeacon of Lincoln
At his Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus and were heard talking with him about his exodus (Luke 9: 28 ff) which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. The Exodus, of course, was to the Jews the definitive act by which God had chosen and affirmed the Jews as his own people by leading them out from slavery in Egypt. They passed through the waters of the Red Sea, wandered in the wilderness where God made a covenant with them at Mount Sinai, and were eventually (though not without a few mishaps along the way) established in the promised land.
The exodus event was commemorated each year at the festival of Passover, when all those who shared in the Passover meal were deemed to have been numbered among those who actually participated in the deliverance from Egypt. This festival, with its associated nationalistic overtones in a country under foreign occupation, formed the context both for Jesus and his disciples of the events we commemorate in Holy Week.
It is for us, as for them, not just a “remembrance” event, but a “participation” in what we celebrate. Jesus’s story becomes our story as we enter the Holy City with him on Palm Sunday, as we explore his teaching in the Temple and its effect on his hearers through the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Then on Maundy Thursday we gather with him in the Upper Room to celebrate the Last Supper and watch with him in the garden of Gethsemane. On Good Friday we see him falsely convicted and cruelly executed and then wait, empty, as he lies in the tomb. On the evening of Holy Saturday (Easter Eve) the church gathers to celebrate the great Vigil in which the exodus of the Jews is revealed as the exodus of Jesus Christ and the exodus of his followers, culminating in the first Eucharist of Easter at which we participate on earth in the paschal feast of eternal life.
We miss the point if we go to church on Palm Sunday and then not again until Easter morning. This week is a movement, a pilgrimage, in which Christians are drawn into an ever-deeper experience of the mystery of our salvation. It beckons us to walk with Jesus the way of the cross so that we may find ourselves risen with him at Easter. The key services in Holy Week are below:
Palm Sunday: 9th April
Procession of Palms and Sung Eucharist - 10am for 11am
Today we commemorate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, singing hosannas as did those who originally accompanied him, but, like him, with our eyes fixed on his approaching suffering, death and resurrection. This service, like the others in Holy Week, seeks to incorporate us into the events we commemorate, to count us by faith among those who originally witnessed them. So we carry our palm crosses and hail our King, but painfully aware that the voices which shout hosanna will soon be shouting ‘Crucify!’
This year with Christians from different Fulham Churches we meet at 10am in Normand Park to hear the Palm Gospel and have our palm crosses blessed. Mass will begin after the procession reaches St John’s at 11am
St Matthew Passion - 6.00pm
This performance of JS Bach’s great oratorio was written 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra. It sets chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of Matthew to music, with interspersed chorales and arias. Sung, semi-staged, in English performers are professional singers and the players are mainly members of the St Paul's Sinfonia. Also performing are the Fulham Camerata Children's Choir.
This performance is part of our Music @ the Heart of Fulham project making live music available to all. Thanks to our donors there is no charge for this experience - donations are gratefully received.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week 2017
6.00pm Mass & Address
6.30pm Exposition and Confessions
The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is available each evening.
Maundy Thursday: 13th April
Blessing of the Oils in St Paul’s Cathedral - 10.30am
At this service on Maundy Thursday morning the Bishop celebrates with his clergy the ‘Chrism Eucharist’ at which the oils associated with three significant parts of the church’s ministry are consecrated. The oil of baptism reminds us of our Lord’s command to make disciples of all the nations, and of our vocation to make his way straight by proclamation of the gospel. The oil of the sick recalls God’s special care for those who suffer and Christ’s particular concern for them. The oil of chrism speaks of consecration to God’s service, and is used in the anointing of the monarch, the consecration of churches, the ordination of priests and in confirmation services.
Eucharist of the Last Supper - 7.30pm
This service begins the Tri-duum (the Three Days) of suffering, death and resurrection which are at the very heart of the Christian gospel.
On this night we fulfill his triple command to love one another, to do this in remembrance of him, and to watch awhile. Christ’s love for us included stripping himself of glory and taking the form of a servant, and so we wash the feet of, amongst others, those preparing to commit themselves to him in Confirmation later this year. In that action of service (which used to form part of the Royal Maundy) we identify ourselves with the Church’s vocation to service in the world.
As every Sunday, in fact every day, we gather round his table to share his fellowship at the Last Supper. But, in this night in which he was betrayed, we do so with particular poignancy, wondering with which of the first apostles who shared his company that night we most readily identify. As we receive the bread of life and the cup of salvation the atmosphere deepens, and we move to the altar of repose to share some of the long night watch with him, for he seems particularly to have desired companionship this evening. We can each take responsibility for part of the Watch through the evening: please sign up on the lists in the Churchwardens Book.
Good Friday: 14th April
Service for Children - 10am (with hot cross buns)
This short and lively worship service helps children of all ages enter into the events of Good Friday.
Stations of the Cross - 11am for Adults
This ancient and beautiful devotion was brought by the Franciscans to Europe when they were given charge of the Holy Places. It takes us through the last journey of Jesus, from before Pontius Pilate to Golgotha and the tomb, in company with some of those who he met.
The Three Hours Devotion - 12am till 3pm
Is an extended meditation upon Jesus’ Seven Last Words in the 3 hours he spent on the cross. There will be a series of short addresses interspersed by Haydn’s 7 Last Words from the Cross performed by the Bridgetower Quartet. You can come and go during the Meditations. The addresses will be based on the recent book by the Revd James Martin SJ Seven Last Words: An Invitation to a Deeper Friendship with Jesus.
Liturgy of the Cross - 3.00pm
This liturgy is one of the most ancient in the Church’s repertoire, with its roots very clearly in the synagogue tradition with which Jesus himself would have been familiar.
It is austere in the extreme - unaccompanied singing, stark ceremonial and a simplicity which is almost brutal. We listen to the scriptures, culminating in St John’s account of the Passion.
A cross is brought in, which we are invited to accept symbolically into our own lives during the Veneration. We recognise the cosmic contradiction whereby the instrument of Jesus’s torture and death becomes the means for us of life and joy.
All Christian liturgy is conducted in the light of the resurrection, but remembering that we are in fact, in one extended liturgy during Holy Week, the intercessions are followed by a deliberately incomplete sign of communion. We do not celebrate the Eucharist today, but we receive Holy Communion in the form of bread only, the same eucharistic presence alongside which the Watch was kept last evening, so keeping in mind Christ’s declaration that he would not drink from the fruit of the vine until he drank it again new in the Kingdom. This liturgy ends in dereliction, the clergy and ministers scattering as did Jesus’s disciples.
Holy Saturday: 15th April
Church Cleaning - Holy Saturday 11am till 2pm
This is a practical way of demonstrating our commitment to our life together. There will be a working party in church from 11am till fish & chips at lunchtime! We need to wash, polish and prepare our church for the Great Service at 8.30pm
The Paschal Vigil - 8.30pm
The Paschal Vigil is the celebration of the whole mystery of redemption. It belongs to Passiontide and to Eastertide, and the change from one to the other is worked out during the course of the service.
It falls into four main parts:
The Service of Light.
This consists of the Blessing of the New Fire, the Blessing and Lighting of the Paschal Candle, the Entry into the Cathedral and the Paschal Proclamation [or Exultet]. The theme of light links both the Creation and the Resurrection and looks forward to the Second Coming - “Blessed are those servants whom the Master finds awake when he comes.” [Luke 12: 37]
The Vigil of Readings.
In the light of the Risen Christ, we listen again to the story of the Creation, the liberation of God’s people from slavery and the promise of further redemption. The Gloria returns, and the jubilant fanfare which heralds this* as well as the Alleluia following St Paul’s teaching on baptism prepare us for the Gospel of the Resurrection, with which this section concludes.
*Please bring with you a bell or football rattle or anything that will make a joyful outpouring of noise to accompany the organ fanfare at the Gloria! This ‘moment of madness’ is as potent as any of the symbols of Holy Week.
The Liturgy of Initiation.
The triumph of Christ becomes the triumph of the individual Christian in Baptism, when we become members of his Body, the Church. On this night we welcome new members in baptism and, in so doing, renew our own baptismal commitment to Christ.
The First Eucharist of Easter.
The early Church expected that the Second Coming of Christ would occur during the night of Easter - “Behold the Bridegroom: come out to meet him [Matt 25:6] and when this ceased to be a literal expectation the Easter liturgy provided the means by which, in the sacramental forms of bread and wine, Christians encounter their Risen Lord as they await his final coming in glory.
Easter Day: 16th April
Holy Communion - 8.30am
In the early light of Easter morning we celebrate the triumph of Christ over death in the mighty prose of the Book of Common Prayer.
Solemn Parish Mass - 10.30am
The Christian family gathers to celebrate together our joy! Today we renew together the promises made at our Baptism, welcome children into the church by baptism, and receive eggs blessed at the end of Mass.
May our celebration of Holy Week be for us all a deepening of faith and a growing in grace by which the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord continues to transform our lives and inform our discipleship.
WEEKLY AT ST JOHN'S