St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church welcomes all to participate in the Holy Week journey

By Sally Neel
Special to The PREVIEW
St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is in its final preparations for Holy Week, a week of remembrance of Jesus’ final days on earth celebrated by Christians all over the world.
Holy Week takes us on a journey with Christ from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the Last Supper with his disciples, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest, trial and crucifixion on the cross, his burial and ultimate victory on Easter Day.
It begins this Sunday (Palm Sunday), April 9, and will be commemorated by ancient traditional liturgical services at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.
• Palm Sunday, 8 a.m. (without music) and 10 a.m. (with music), Holy Eucharist. Service begins outside the church for the blessing of the palms and grand procession into the church. (If weather is not conducive to outdoor worship, we will meet in the parish hall.)
• Maundy Thursday, 6 p.m., celebration of foot washing and Holy Eucharist, followed by the Agape Meal in the parish hall and the all-night watch at the altar of repose.
• Good Friday, 5:30 p.m., music in remembrance offered by the NightSong Trio — Sally Neel (piano/organ), Jessica Peterson (flute) and Heidi Tanner (violin), followed by the Good Friday Eucharist and veneration of the cross at 6 p.m.
• The Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. The congregation is encouraged to bring bells to ring. There will be a wine-and-cheese celebration following this service.
• Easter Sunday, 8 a.m. (no music) and 10 a.m. (with music), festival Eucharist celebration.
The Holy Week journey is filled with emotional highs and lows, a story of our own redemption through the death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It begins on Palm Sunday as Jesus humbly enters Jerusalem on a donkey for the Jewish Feast of the Passover. He is greeted by enthusiastic cheers and a festival celebration, blessing the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
On Maundy Thursday, Christ’s journey to the cross continues. Jesus knows his days are numbered and meets with his beloved disciples in the upper room to break bread and drink wine with them. He demonstrates his deepest love for them by the humble act of washing their feet and tries to prepare them for what lies ahead, knowing that they cannot fully understand. Jesus tells Judas, hired by the chief priests and elders to betray his whereabouts, to go and do what he must do, knowing that it will be only a matter of hours before he is arrested.
Following the Last Supper, Jesus retires to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. (St. Patrick’s offers an altar of repose in the church parish hall, where those who wish to may keep watch with Christ, praying throughout the night.)
Jesus asks his disciples to stay awake and pray with him, but they are tired and soon fall asleep. Jesus’ full humanity is demonstrated as he prays for God to spare him from the evil brutality that awaits him. And his divinity is equally shown as he completely and willingly subjects himself to be God’s ultimate sacrificial lamb, the perfect sacrifice for the whole world. The soldiers return with Judas in the middle of the night and Jesus is arrested and taken for trial.
On Good Friday, Jesus goes before Pontius Pilate to be condemned to death and is brutally whipped, beaten, mocked and nailed to a cross between two thieves. Yet, his final words are words of forgiveness and love, ultimately commending his soul into God’s hands. The world turns dark and trembles as Christ’s spirit leaves his body, leaving the world completely devoid of God.
On Saturday night, the world returns from darkness back to light as Christ is resurrected from the tomb. The Great Vigil of Easter, one of the most ancient rites of the church, recalls the stories from the Old Testament that testify to God’s love and continual rescuing of humanity from evil, ultimately leading us to God’s final sacrifice and redemption through Christ. Bells are rung and joyous hymns are sung as the light returns to the darkened world through God’s love and grace.
On Easter Day, Christians celebrate Christ’s resurrection as he makes his first appearance to Mary outside the tomb. She is astonished to realize that evil has not triumphed. Hope, love and grace endure, available forevermore to all of God’s children. Hallelujah.
“For those who participate in the Holy Week services, the impact of the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ is amplified 100 fold,” said Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s. “I highly recommend that Christians consider Holy Week as a personal walk with our Lord through worship and prayer. Our services are open to anyone who wishes to attend.”
All are welcome to fully participate in services at St. Patrick’s and partake of Holy Communion. “In God’s house, at God’s table, all are invited to be fed.”
For more information about St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, call 731-5801.

This story was posted on March 22, 2018.