I love great questions! And in the afterglow of such a powerful Holy Week, a great question was raised. A couple of young adults who do not attend worship often, wondered aloud why we did some of the things we did during Holy Week, and I thought that might be a great topic for today’s midweek.
Did you wonder why the Palm Sunday service went from the glorious Hosannas to the depths of despair? The practice of Passion Sunday is an ancient one. In the early church, Lent was the culmination of a 3-year catechumenate, the ancient way that disciples were formed – what we now know as confirmation, but with a whole lot more rules. Passion Sunday was a kind of “preview” of what was to come during Holy Week, and Passion Sunday took place on the Sunday before Palm Sunday. I’m honestly not sure why this practice developed. I imagine, though, that it was partially to help the new disciples understand and get more deeply into the remembrance of what took place once they “walked through” Holy Week. The practice of combining Palm and Passion Sundays began as a part of Vatican II in 1969. There is a widely shared view that says this change was brought about because our celebrations went from “Hosanna” to “Hallelujah” and very few people actually attended the Holy Week services where they would experience the deeply significant events of Thursday and Friday: betrayal and trial leading to execution.
One of my goals as the worship leader for this congregation, is to immerse us in the drama of Holy Week and pray that the Holy Spirit will move us all to a new depth of understanding and experience of God’s gift of love divine. That’s why we ended Palm/Passion Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday services in silence. Each of those services took us to a place of despair. The drama of the moment led us to identify with the way the disci-ples felt as they experienced those days with Jesus.
There are many people that I would like to thank for their work in shaping the worship services and settings throughout Lent:
The Worship Design Team (Darlene Gobrecht, Travis Harry, George Hoffmann, Ross Merryman, Bill Myers, Dennis Smith, Jannell and Tony Trcka) for their insights in developing the messages and services. The Worship Committee for their work in the logistics and in developing all of the visual settings for each of the services. This committee routinely takes care of ushering, greeters, visuals (altars and flowers), communion preparation, candles, technical support for sound and video, acolytes, and the many “moving parts” of worship. Members of this committee are: Scott Forbes, chair; Daryl Bogert, Pat Caltrider, Joanne Ditto, Brian Holsonbake, Maggie O’Farrell, Susan Harry, John Riesenfeld, Kate Strom, Judy Wright, and Sue Wright.
The Choirs, Choir Directors, Brass Trio, and our Organist. Music is always an integral part of our worship services, and the music in the last 2 weeks of Lent/Easter this year was breathtaking. Thank you to every singer, for the deeply moving solos, for the amazing instrumental pieces, and every note that moved us to the depths and heights of the drama that is the Passion of the Christ. Thank you, too, to Kelly Renner, Tracy Tambaoan, Diana Fay Williams, and to Bill Myers for their guidance of our music ministry.
One last personal thank you – for the flowers placed on the altar in our honor. They are truly beautiful, and I am thoroughly enjoying them.
May God bless your celebration of The Great Fifty Days of Easter with frequent experiences of Resurrection Joy!
Blessings on you,