As we embark on the greatest week of the Church’s year, I thought it might be useful to include the preface to our Holy Week booklet you can find at the back of church.
“Holy Week is associated in the minds of many people with extra services in church. It is not a recent phenomenon:
Today, even in churches where services on weekdays are a rarity, there is a service everyday. Why this desire to hold so many services? It is a response to a deeply held belief that during this week we come very close to the heart and centre of our faith: We commemorate the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and somehow relive them, and because we are members of his body, the church, we ourselves are caught up in those events.
We are irresistibly drawn to this week because it holds the clue to why we are Christians at all. Holy Week together with the fifty days of Easter which follow it, urges us to reflect deeply on our Christian profession, and as God ushers in the new creation by the death and resurrection of his Son, so we are renewed in our Christian discipleship and brought to Christ again from death to life.
The services of Holy Week are unlike anything else in the Church year, and yet their form and content come from a very early time in Christian history. They were first described by the Spanish nun, Egeria, who visited Jerusalem probably between 381 and 384, where the saving events were commemorated in the places where they were alleged to have happened. It must have been a compelling experience, for Egeria repeated it several times!
It is thrilling to think that when we take part in the traditional services of this Week we are in touch with one of the earliest strands of the history of our community. But we are not engaged merely in an exercise aimed at re-creating either the events themselves or the ecclesiastical routines of the fourth centuryJerusalem: God redeems us and call us into a relationship with himself through Jesus, and our presence at and participation in these services is tied up with our response to God’s self-giving love. That is why they are important”.
I urge you all to participate as fully as possible in the drama of this amazing week.
Palm Sunday, this coming Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week. It’s the most important week of the year for Christians as we journey with Jesus from the singing Hosannas on Palm Sunday to the horror of the Cross on Good Friday, before we celebrate the joys of Resurrection on Easter Day. There will be an act of worship every day at St Nick’s and it would be good if these services could be made a priority for everyone. If you are not able to come out in the evenings then perhaps you could attend Morning Prayer?
There is no Mass on Thursday morning at St Nick’s, but you might like to attend the Sung Eucharist at St Paul’s Cathedral at 10.30am. This service includes the blessing of the oils used in parishes throughout the Diocese of London in the coming year and the Renewal of Ordination Vows by the clergy. It’s quite a sight to see so many clergy of all shapes, colours and sizes processing round the cathedral, and the music is wonderful!
We are very fortunate to have some wonderful talks at St Paul’s Cathedral but it is not always possible for us to travel there to attend them. Thankfully they are recorded and we are able to view them subsequently in the comfort of our own homes. I can thoroughly recommend one of their recent talks entitled: ‘Scandal and Glory: The Cross in the Bible and poetry’. The two speakers are Canon Mark Oakley, renowned for his work on poetry, and Paula Gooder, one of the foremost Biblical scholars of our time. Mark reminds us that ‘whatever the death of Jesus Christ means to you, you should not be able to express it on a fridge magnet’. It is a wonderful discipline in Holy Week to reflect on what the Cross means to each of us, both individually and corporately. I encourage you to follow the link below which will take you to their talk
Wishing you a very blessed and peaceful Holy Week