HOLY WEEK and EASTER
at St Edmund's Church Northwood Hills
THE WEEK THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
Holy week is the most important week of the year for Christians. It is the week that we participate in the Passion of Jesus. It is important to remember that we are not mere spectators in a drama. All the great events commemorated in the Christian calendar are not merely past events, entirely outside ourselves but present realities and we try each year to enter more deeply into them. Just as the Eucharist is not simply a memorial service in which we commemorate Christ’s sacrifice, but a sharing and a participation in his Passion, death, and resurrection; in the same way, Holy Week is a way of being part of this ‘drama’.
Do take advantage of the Liturgies, whatever stage of your Christian journey you may be at, to come closer to Christ and identify your life with his.
WHAT HAPPENS AND WHY AT THE HOLY WEEK SERVICES
Palm Sunday - 10th April
On Palm Sunday, we commemorate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Our worship begins in the Church Hall where the palms we carry representing the palms strewn in Jesus’ path are blessed. The Gospel is read and then we process to the Church (which represents Jerusalem) where the account of Jesus’ Passion is read dramatically and we all take different parts. This reminds us that Jesus entered Jerusalem to go to his death and those who were shouting ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ and acclaiming Jesus as king on the first Palm Sunday were shouting ‘Crucify Him’ just a few days later. The Eucharist then continues as normal.
Maundy Thursday – 14th April
“Maundy” comes from the Latin Mandate (which means commandment), because it was at the Last Supper that Jesus gave a New Commandment – ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’ (John 13.34)
Maundy Thursday is a special day for all Priests since it is a day to renew their ordination vows. In London, this is done at St. Paul’s Cathedral at what is known as the Chrism Mass. The Holy Oils used for Baptism, Confirmation and the anointing of the sick are blessed by the Bishop and distributed to all the churches. Everyone is welcome to this wonderful and uplifting service.
On Maundy Thursday evening, we remember the Last Supper and that Jesus gave himself in the Eucharist. The Eucharist begins with the reception of the Holy Oils blessed that morning.
We recall that Jesus chose his apostles to serve and lead the Church. Remembering that Jesus washed their feet at the Last Supper, to show what sort of leadership we should emulate, the Priest washes the feet of twelve members of the congregation.
The evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is a beautiful and joyful celebration. During the singing of the Gloria, the church bells are rung and then remain silent until the Easter Vigil of Holy Saturday night. To remember Jesus going to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray after the Last Supper the Eucharist is followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, to an altar of repose set up for the occasion and decorated with flowers and candles to represent the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked his disciples to watch and pray with him but they fell asleep so we then watch and pray with Jesus. Then the altar and church is stripped bare in readiness for Good Friday.
Good Friday -15th April
On Good Friday, we remember the death of Jesus. According to an ancient custom, the Eucharist is not celebrated on this day or before the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. The celebration of the Lord’s passion and death takes place in the afternoon.
There are three parts to the Good Friday Liturgy:
The Liturgy of the Word - during which we hear scripture readings and the children will perform a dramatic version of Jesus’ Passion
The Veneration of the Cross - during which we are invited to come and kiss the cross or simply pray silently at the foot of the cross
Holy Communion - we receive Jesus in Holy Communion using Hosts consecrated on Maundy Thursday.
Holy Saturday – 16th April
10am Morning Prayer
The church is empty and bare and the Eucharist is not celebrated as we await the Resurrection.
Then the Church gathers to celebrate the Easter Vigil. The celebration of the Easter Vigil should take place at night, beginning after nightfall.
The Easter Vigil has four parts: The Service of Light; the Liturgy of the Word; the Liturgy of Baptism; and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
During the Service of Light, all the lights in the church are turned off and a fire is prepared outside the church. The fire is blessed and the Paschal (Easter) Candle is lit from the new fire. The candle is carried into the dark church. It is a sign of Christ, the Light of the World, who has overcome the darkness of sin and death. The lighted Paschal Candle provides the only illumination. Then, from the flame of the Paschal Candle, members of the congregation light the small candles that they are holding.
The flame is passed from person to person until everyone is holding a lighted candle. The light from the Paschal Candle and all the small candles provides the only illumination in the church during this portion of the liturgy. This section concludes with the singing of the Easter Proclamation, the Exsultet.
During the Liturgy of the Word, the story of God's great love for us is proclaimed in readings from the Old and New Testaments. The readings recall the great events of salvation, beginning with creation itself.
During the Liturgy of Baptism, all present stand with lighted candles and renew their baptismal promises as a sign that they share the new life of Jesus through his resurrection.
The priest then makes the acclamation Alleluia. Christ is risen, and everyone responds loudly He is risen indeed. Alleluia. After a great fan-fare we then sing the Gloria and bells are rung for the first time since Maundy Thursday.
The Easter Vigil concludes with the celebration of the Eucharist. This is a joyous sharing in the sacrificial meal of Jesus Christ, Lord and Risen Saviour.
Easter Day – Sunday 17th April
Our celebrations of Christ’s Resurrection continue. Easter represents the fulfilment of God's promises to humankind; it is the most important day of the Christian calendar.
Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God’s throne! Jesus is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation!
From the Easter Proclamation – The Exsultet
Donations welcome until the end of April
This year our Lent Giving will be split 50-50 between:
the Diocese of London Lent Appeal "Cultivating Compassionate Communities" focussing on mental health and wellbeing for adults and young people, along with domestic abuse. It will raise money to support three partner charities and you can read about them here
Play Action International The charity takes a child-centred approach to education and uses the power of play to transform the lives of vulnerable children in East Africa through specialised play programmes. These are implemented in refugee settlements, hospitals and community schools.
You can donate by:
Sending a cheque made payable to PCC of St Edmund The King to:
St Edmund's Church Lent Appeal
2 Pinner Road
Bank Transfer (BACS)
If you are considering donating via BACS please complete the form below and we will e-mail you the bank details: