Holy Week

Easter Day

We celebrate our Savior’s victory over sin and death. Every Sunday commemorates the Feast of our Lord’s passing over from death to life. This day is really the model for every other Sunday. It is important to remember the ancient and more typical name, outside of the English speaking world, Pascha—from Passover, for this day is the fulfillment of what the Lord began in Egypt. This day is especially festive, with offerings from our bell choir and vocal choir. All are encouraged to bring bells to ring in celebration of the resurrection.

8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, with breakfast following

10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist with Children’s Church.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. The procession with palms, which was already observed in Jerusalem in the fourth century, calls to mind the triumphal entry of Jesus, our Lord and King, into Jerusalem. The procession is fundamentally an act of worship, witness, and devotion to our Lord.

At Emmaus, we go the extra step of bringing this liturgy to life at our 10:30 service by going outdoors, welcoming Jesus complete with actual donkeys, and dramatic, participatory readings of the story. While many liturgical churches also read the Passion Gospel (the Cross), we do not because we believe it important to keep the focus on Palm Sunday on those events, and encourage our people to attend Good Friday.

The Sacred Three Days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, The Great Vigil

The Paschal mystery—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—is at the heart of the Christian Gospel. The evening of Maundy Thursday begins the Triduum (the sacred three days). This service, together with Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and The Great Vigil of Easter, form a single liturgy; thus, the final blessing and dismissal is reserved for the conclusion of the Great Vigil.

Maundy Thursday receives its name from the mandatum (commandment) given by our Lord: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). At the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and commanded them to love and serve one another as he had done. This day commemorates the Lord’s example of servant ministry, the institution of the Eucharist, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal leading to the crucifixion.

The Good Friday liturgy is the second part of the Triduum (the sacred three days). This most somber of all days is appropriately marked by fasting, abstinence, and penitence, leading us to focus on Jesus and the meaning of his cross. The Lord of Life was rejected, mocked, scourged, and then put to death on the cross. The faithful are reminded of the role which their own sin played in this suffering and agony, as Christ took all sin upon himself, in obedience to his Father’s will. By the cross we are redeemed, set free from bondage to sin and death. The cross is a sign of God’s never-ending love for us. It is a sign of life, in the midst of death. At Emmaus, we participate in a dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel (the crucifixion story), hear a sermon, and bring our sins to the cross. All this happens with the Crucifixion backdrop inviting us into our Savior’s passion.

The Great Vigil of Easter, when observed, is the first liturgy of Easter Day. It is celebrated at a convenient time between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter morning. It is appropriate that the service begin in darkness.

The liturgy normally consists of four parts:

  1. The Service of Light: a new fire is kindled, and from it the Paschal Candle is lit, symbolizing Christ, the light of the world. The Exsultet, an ancient song of praise, is sung or said as the climax of this part of the liturgy.
  2. The Service of Lessons: key passages from Scripture recount the history of God’s mighty acts and promises. These readings are accompanied by Psalms, Canticles, and prayers.
  3. Holy Baptism is the sacrament through which candidates are united to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-4), which the Church celebrates on this most holy night. When the Bishop is present, confirmation may also be administered. If there are no candidates for baptism or confirmation, the congregation joins in a Renewal of Baptismal Vows.
  4. The Holy Eucharist is the proper culmination of the Easter Liturgy. As we keep this holy feast, we share the joy of our Savior’s triumph and are strengthened by his grace to walk in newness of life. At Emmaus, we celebrate the first Eucharist of Easter at the 8:00 a.m. liturgy.