Easter Day (April 1, 9:00): This is the most important and quintessential Christian feast. The primary theme is the resurrection: on this day Jesus was raised from the dead, overcoming the power of death and the grave. And all subsequent Sundays, including those in Lent, are but small remembrances of this greatest day. Come, wear your Easter finery and celebrate our Lord’s resurrection and the promise of our own! Immediately following the service, we will hold our traditional Easter brunch, a marvelous time of parish fellowship. At mid-morning, parishioners from St. Peter’s join our friends from Adas Yoshuron Synagogue by hosting at St. Peter’s the Easter Egg Hunt and joining in preparing the Easter Community Meal.
The Great Vigil of Easter (March 31, 7:00pm): This is the first celebration of Easter and is among the most ancient of the liturgies we have. It begins on the night before Easter Day and, despite the late hour, the Vigil can be a wonderful service for older children because it is the epitome of “hands-on” liturgy with wonderful contrasting symbols of darkness and light, quiet reflection and loud rejoicing. There are four main parts to this service the first three of which are done in darkness, lit only by candlelight: a ritual of light in which we light the new fire and paschal candle, a liturgy of the Word when we listen to Scripture readings highlighting God’s saving plan for humanity and, thirdly, baptize new initiates to the faith and renew our own baptismal vows. Then, we come to a turning point in the service as we end the season of Lent and begin the first Eucharist of Easter. The proclamation is made: “Alleluia. Christ is risen!” and the people respond “The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!” at which time we enter brilliant light: candles on the altar are lit, the electric lights are turned on, and we begin to sing, ring bells, shake tambourines and other handheld instruments. The joyful contrast to Lent is unmistakable and as you blink in the light and sing the familiar song of praise you will no doubt see smiles of amazement on the faces around you. This is a moment when we glimpse a bit of heaven and can believe again that the Good News is indeed true after all. This year St. Peter’s is hosting our area celebration; joining in are the congregations of St. John Baptist (Thomaston), St. Thomas (Camden), and Nativity Lutheran (Rockport). Our preacher for the evening is the Rev. Lisa Smith Fry from St. Thomas’ Camden.
Good Friday (March 30, 12:00pm & 5:30pm): On this day the church commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus. At St. Peter’s there will be services at both noon and at 5:30 in the evening. The noon service is a service of prayer, contemplation and reflection called Stations of the Cross. Worshippers walk the way of the cross that is depicted on the image/stations on the walls of our sanctuary. This is an ancient practice that slows us down to walk with Jesus on his last day of life. The evening service is a traditional Good Friday Liturgy. The clergy and acolytes are dressed in black and enter in silence and, though the mood is somber, the Good Friday liturgy is not a funeral. We remember Jesus’ suffering and death while celebrating the victory over death he has won for us now. The liturgy has three distinctive parts. The first is a liturgy of the Word in which we hear a passion gospel and pray a series of intercessions called the Solemn Collects. The second part of the service is the Veneration of the Cross – all are invited to come near to a large wooden cross to pray. It concludes with Eucharist from the reserved sacrament from Maundy Thursday evening, after which all remaining communion sacrament is returned to the earth and the sanctuary candle is extinguished, not to be lit again until after the first Eucharist of Easter.
Maundy Thursday (March 29, 5:30pm): The name comes from the Latin mandatum, the root of our English word “mandate” or “command”. It refers to the new commandment to “love one another” (John 13:34) that Jesus gave his disciples after he had washed their feet on the Thursday of his final week in Jerusalem. Tonight we move through Jesus’ final evening with his disciples, beginning with the Passover meal, through his anguished prayer in the garden of Gethsemane to his betrayal and arrest. Our liturgy highlights many of these key moments. We, too, will be invited to wash one another’s feet as a sign of our willingness to follow Jesus’ mandate to love one another. We will recall the last supper in which Jesus instituted Holy Communion on the night before he died by doing as he commanded: do this for the remembrance of me. The service concludes with a dramatic stripping of the altar: the lights in the sanctuary dim gradually as clergy and acolytes, now dressed in black, remove all altar hangings, candles, vessels and appointments until the altar area is completely bare, at which time the sanctuary becomes completely dark. Those who wish to wait with Christ as the disciples were asked to do at Gethsemane can move to the chapel, which will have been transformed into a garden. You can say a prayer, sit and meditate with the body of Christ, represented in your fellow silent worshippers and in the reserved sacrament stored there. Many people find such silent prayer to be deeply moving.
Wednesday Evening Tenebrae (March 28, 5:30pm): a service of readings and choral meditations on Christ’s passion. This dramatic service is marked by the extinguishing of candles after each set of readings with music, so that the lights dim until, representing Jesus’ death, we are in complete darkness. (Tenebrae means “shadows” or “darkening”). After the tolling of the mourning bell, the service concludes as a Christ candle is returned – a sign of our hope for the Easter to come, and all depart in silence.
Palm Sunday (March 25, 8:00am, 10:30am, and 5:30pm): This service begins by recounting Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem accompanied by shouts of “hosanna” and the waving of palm branches. At the 10:30 service, weather permitting, we will gather in the Parish Hall where palms will be blessed and distributed and then process around the neighborhood, singing hymns that retell the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Back in the church and halfway through the Palm Sunday service the mood of the day shifts dramatically. Indeed, Palm Sunday is also known as “Passion Sunday” because we hear, in a dramatic reading, the narrative of Jesus’ last supper, his betrayal by Judas, arrest, torture and crucifixion.
Holy Week Services & Activities:
PALM SUNDAY, MARCH 25, services at 8:00 am, 10:30 am, and 5:30 pm, liturgy of the palms and reading of the Passion Narrative TENEBRAE, MARCH 28, 5:30 pm, a dramatic service of readings and music; MAUNDY THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 5:30 pm Holy Eucharist with Foot- Washing, Stripping of the Altar, and veneration of the- sacrament in The Garden of Repose; GOOD FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 12:00 pm Stations of the Cross; 5:30 pm Good Friday Liturgy with Eucharist from the reserved sacrament;
HOLY SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 7:00 pm, The Great Vigil of Easter (St. Peter’s hosts this year’s area gathering; the Rev. Lisa Fry of St. Thomas’ Camden will be the preacher; EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 1, Choral Festival Eucharist (ONE SERVICE ONLY) at 9:00 am, followed by the parish Easter Brunch; Easter Egg Hunt at 12:00 pm andEaster Community Meal at 12:30
Lenten Book Group – The rector will lead a series of discussions on Sundays in Lent (February 18 and 25, March 4, 11, and 18) based on Rowan Williams’ Being Disciples: the Essentials of the Christian Life. We will gather at noon on Sundays, share a bag lunch, and discuss the book. The former archbishop of Canterbury, Williams is an important theologian who here writes in a gentle, inviting, and pastoral style. This short, lovely book has been described as “the most beautiful writing on discipleship”. Copies are available for purchase or you can find them at your local library, bookstore, or online bookstore.
THE PUBLIC IS WELCOME. Shrove Tuesday Pancake Lunch – February 13th, from 11:00am to 1:00pm. Once again the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) are hosting a special Shrove Tuesday Pancake Lunch with pancakes, sausage, syrup, fruit and sherbet. Tickets are $8.00 for adults, $4.00 for children. Consider making a donation, too, so that someone who cannot afford the meal could join us. All are invited to this traditional feast before the season of Lent begins on Wednesday, February 14. The annual pancake luncheon is just one off many events hosted by the ECW to support community outreach activities.