The Plan for Holy Week

Last Saturday a very lovely and dedicated group of parishioners met to help me think through Holy Week. We were well aware that this is the second year in which Holy Week will look very different due to the ongoing pandemic. Although there is much hope that the pandemic is in its last days, all of the predictions indicate that it won’t be truly over until mid to late summer, and that we should continue being very cautious in the months to come. That said, we’ve learned a lot about how to be a church during extraordinary times throughout the last year, and we can bring some of what we learned into our practice in a way that will make this year’s Holy Week more open and congenial then last year’s was. Below, you will find a list of Holy Week services and times, followed by the logistical details for each service and the reasoning we used in determining each service’s shape.

Maundy Thursday, 7:00 PM on April 1st (in the Sanctuary and online)
Good Friday, 12:00 PM Stations of the Cross (online) and 7:00 PM worship service (online) on April 2nd.
Easter Vigil, 9:00 PM on April 3rd, in-person only.
Easter Sunday, 8:30 AM & 10:30 AM online only.

Maundy Thursday

The Maundy Thursday service will be our single hybrid service during Holy Week. That means that it will be both in-person and live-streamed. We reasoned that we wanted to allow participation by those who didn’t feel safe coming in-person, but we also wanted to use this night, on which Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist, as the moment in which we bring the Eucharist back into our practice as a church.

To attend in person, you will need to check your temperature before you come, wear a mask, and maintain social distancing. If you come to the service in person, you will not be able to sing along with the hymns. If you watch at home, your experience of the service will be very much like one of our Sunday morning services. Here are some of the specifics of the service:

  • The service will take place at 7:00 PM in the Sanctuary.
  • Music will be pre-recorded by our choral scholars.
  • There will be a Celebration of Holy Eucharist (for the first time in a year). If you are present in person, you will receive the bread but not the wine.
    • If you are watching from home, but want to receive the Eucharist, I will distribute communion from the steps of the church once the service has ended.
  • The service will end with the Stripping of the Altar.

You can reserve a spot at this service by following this link.

The Watch in the Garden

Last year, we began the practice of holding the Watch in the Garden throughout the night. This is a beautiful and ancient custom of trying to stay awake with Jesus in the Garden of Repose. Our practice is to break the night into hour long shifts. Each person who takes a shift lights a candle in their home and prays beside it (and maybe some house plants) for that hour. We provide a small devotional text for you to use. After the hour is over, this person calls or texts the person who is taking the next hour of watch and asks them to light their candle. Once they’re sure that the next person has lit a candle, they put their own candle out. This way we ensure that a flame is always burning in one of our houses. I have created this Google Sheet for you to sign-up for an hour, if you feel called to participate in the Watch in the Garden.

This year we will also set-up a camera in the Sanctuary so that the reserved host is viewable during your hour of meditation, and also available to everyone who wants to spend a few moments on Facebook in prayer and meditation.

Good Friday

Our Good Friday liturgy will consist of two main parts. We will be offering a service of the Stations of the Cross at noon, and offering an online-only service at 7:00 PM. We reasoned that the 7:00 PM service is a service without eucharist, so with little need for in-person presence. But we also wanted to recognize the very physical nature of Jesus’s procession to the cross, and to allow people to enter into that physicality by walking the Stations here at the church.

Stations of the Cross

Beginning on Palm Sunday, we will have stations set-up in both the Sanctuary and the Courtyard. The Courtyard stations will be available for anyone to walk at any time during the course of the week. If you’d prefer to walk the stations in the Sanctuary, we ask that you sign-up for a time slot, during which you and those in your Covid-bubble can walk the stations together. Use this form to sign-up. At noon on Good Friday we will live stream a service from the Sanctuary, in which we walk the stations accompanied by music and meditations. We will also have “digital stations” available that anyone can access online at any time.

7:00 PM Live-streamed Service

We will live stream a service that uses the Book of Common Prayer’s Good Friday liturgy at 7:00 PM. Here are the specifics for this service:

  • We will chant the Passion Gospel
  • We will pray the Solemn Collects
  • Our choral scholars will sing the Good Friday Anthems (these will be prerecorded)
  • There will be time in the service for the Adoration of the Cross. Since this service will be streaming, and not an in-person service, we ask people to have a cross near by them as they participate from their homes, so that they can join the Adoration at the appointed time.

The Easter Vigil

This service will be in-person only. There will be no streaming component to this service at all. We reasoned that this service requires certain elements that can only be expressed well when people are physically gathered together. A great bonfire is lit in the courtyard. A cantor sings the Exultet as the Paschal Candle is carried into the sanctuary. There are a series of lessons, with instrumental music and plainsong (sung by the cantor) interspersed throughout the readings. After the readings, there is a great noise to accompany the Easter Acclamation. And then we celebrate the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection with Holy Eucharist. The movement, light, and liturgical action of this service is best expressed in-person, rather than online. Here are some of the details:

  • The service will begin at 9:00 PM on Holy Saturday (April 3rd).
  • We will gather in the Courtyard. You will be asked to check your temperature before you come to the service, to wear a mask, and to observe social distancing.
  • We will have a cantor, who will maintain safe distance from the congregants. She will sing the Exultant and most of the plainsong music for the service.
  • We will process into the church with lit candles, maintaining social distancing as we do so.
  • Communion will be distributed in one-kind only (the bread).

Use this link to sign up to attend the Easter Vigil.

Easter Sunday

This service will be live streamed, and we will not meet in person for it. We reasoned that this has the potential to be the most dangerous service, since people are used to going to church on Easter Sunday, and no matter how hard we tried to get people to sign-up ahead of time, we would have a lot of walk-ins if we met in person. We made this decision knowing that it would be disappointing to people, but that it is our first duty to keep people safe. And we hope that those who are drawn to in-person worship on Easter will come to the vigil service the night before. Here are the details.

  • We will hold our usual Sunday services. The 8:30 AM service will be on Zoom, and the 10:30 AM service will be live-streamed to Facebook and Youtube.
  • We plan to have trumpet fanfares and choral anthems.
  • This will be a service of Holy Eucharist. After the service, we invite people to come by the church and receive communion from the front steps, in one kind (bread only).
  • We will have Easter Baskets for the children of the parish, that they will receive when they come for communion.

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