the Great Three Days
Holy Week by Ann Weems
Holy is the week…
Holy, consecrated, belonging to God…
We move from hosannas to horror
with predictable ease
of those who know not what they do.
Our hosannas sung,
our palms waved,
let us go with passion into this week.
It is time to curse fig trees that do not yield fruit.
It is time to cleanse our temples of any blasphemy.
It is time to greet Jesus as the Lord’s Anointed One,
to lavishly break our alabaster
and pour perfume out for him
without counting the cost.
It is a time for preparation…
The time to give thanks and break bread is upon us.
The time to give thanks and drink of the cup is imminent.
Eat, drink, remember:
On this night of nights, each one must ask,
as we dip our bread in the wine,
“Is it I?”
And on that darkest of days, each of us must stand
beneath the tree
and watch the dying
if we are to be there
when the stone is rolled away.
The only road to Easter morning
is through the unrelenting shadows of that Friday.
Only then will the alleluias be sung;
only then will the dancing begin.
Dear Beloved Epworth Community
Today we enter the period known as the Great Three Days, or Triduum, which begins with the observance of Maundy Thursday this evening, moves to Good Friday tomorrow, holds through the grieving quiet of Saturday, giving way to Easter hallelujahs Sunday morning and ending with prayers Easter evening. This is a time that is considered the pinnacle of our Christian faith, as we move from the sorrow and suffering of the cross to the resurrection.
One of the strongest reasons that faith in Christ, and later Christianity, has been embraced by so many is that we have a faith that faces honestly the real suffering that humans experience on this earth and provides us with an understanding of where God is in all of that. God is on the cross, feeling the pain we feel from the brokenness of this world. This oneness gives way to transcendence, which we celebrate in the resurrection on Easter morning. The journey is important: the only way to Easter is through the Great Three Days.
This evening, I hope you will observe the events of Jesus’ last night with his disciples through the Maundy Thursday liturgy posted here. You may wish to do this with the small group you’ve been travelling through Lent with, with family, or a group of friends.
On Good Friday, please join me in front of the red sanctuary doors at 10am for the Social Justice Stations of the Cross walk through our neighborhood. Each year, we consider the ways in which the brokenness that led to the crucifixion of Christ is still present. If you are unable to come at 10am, you can do the walk as a self-guided meditation with the text and map here.
At noon, Epworth is joining Easter Hill UMC (3911 Cutting Boulevard, Richmond, CA) in a Seven Last Words of Christ service. Come and immerse yourself in preaching from seven different preachers as we consider the seven last words of Christ from the cross. I will be preaching on the fifth word, “I thirst.”
On Sunday morning, we will proclaim together, “He is risen!” Before dawn, we’ll gather once again at Cesar Chavez park for our glorious Sunrise Service, beginning at 6:30. With shouts of joy, songs, bells, scripture and a special prayer time with a cross of palms and flowers, we will celebrate the resurrection. Special thanks to Cathryn Bruno for coordinating this year’s service logistics and breakfast!
Then, with gathering music at 9:30 in the sanctuary, Epworth’s celebration worship will begin at 10:00am. We’ll hear the account of Jesus’ resurrection from our ancient texts, and celebrate our joy with music and movement (as able.) My message will be based on Luke’s account, which witnesses to the power of the leap of faith we have been engaging throughout Lent. Come and celebrate with the glorious sounds of our choir, and your community of faith as we bear witness to the resurrections in our lives.
Our Easter offering this year benefits the Berkeley Food Network and the United Methodist Western Jurisdiction Committee on Native American Ministries. Donations can be made on our website or in worship. Thank you so much for your generosity.
Following the service, children and families are invited to an Easter egg hunt, and fellowship time with refreshments and warm beverages is available for all. I look forward to seeing you Sunday. Alleluia!
In Hope and Faith,