A GUIDE TO
THE HOLY WEEK JOURNEY DAY BY DAY SUNDAY
another, to stay and watch with him in the garden, to
To journey with Jesus, to be present with him here
accompany him on the way to Calvary, to be present at
this Holy Week, is a pilgrimage that will change us.
his death, and to dance for joy at his resurrection.
On Palm Sunday we join the crowds waving palm branches and singing “hosanna” to Jesus as an earthly
Lent has prepared us to journey with Jesus through
to celebrate the feast but also to remember and re-
Holy Week. But we do not walk with Jesus simply
present to each new generation the history of God’s
as observers of his passion, death, and resurrection,
saving deeds (Ps. 78:5-8).
seeking to recall what happened. The church invites us This biblical understanding of “remembrance” is very
instead to enter into Holy Week as pilgrims.
different from our modern understanding. It was not
Gregory Nazianzen, a fourth-century bishop,
king, perceiving his glory in worldly terms based on
exhorted his congregation to be as fully present with
our own human experiences and expectations.
Jesus that week in Jerusalem as were his disciples, and to be changed by Christ’s death and resurrection even
By the time Maundy Thursday arrives we begin, with
as they were:
the disciples, to see Jesus with different eyes. He is the Christ revealed to us in humility as the embodiment of
We are soon going to share in the Passover [of Christ]...
Pilgrimage in the Old Testament is a journey initiated
a mere memory, a recalling to mind of something
by God with a spiritual goal. Abraham was called by
that happened in the past. For the Jews to remember
God to make pilgrimage to a land that God promised
was to participate in what was being remembered—a
If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your cross and
To be present at the cross on Good Friday, even as
to show him. Centuries later God led Moses and
re-living of that event. Thus, every year at the Passover
Mary and John were, is to finally see Jesus’ glory
Israel on a forty-year pilgrimage to that same Land of
seder, it was the job of the youngest child to ask the
question, “Why is this night different from all other
If you are crucified beside him, like one of the thieves,
sin and death. His sacrifice on the cross for the
nights?” Then began the recitation of mighty works
now like the good thief acknowledge your God. For
forgiveness of our sins has made the saving power of
Pilgrimage is different than a “trip.” It is not a
God enacted to deliver Israel from their bondage in
your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was
his blood eternally present to us.
sightseeing tour or a desire to experience a change
Egypt under Pharaoh. In eating the Passover seder
regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must
of scenery. On pilgrimage, it is the “pilgrim” who is
they, too, were sharing the meal “eaten in haste” (Exod.
cease to sin. Worship him who was hung on the cross
On Easter Sunday we participate in the glory of God’s
changed by God forever. Abram became Abraham,
12:11). They were participating in the Exodus from
because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself.
victory over sin and death as we “hasten to see the
the “father of all who believe” (Rom. 4:11). The
Egypt just as surely as those Jews who were there with
Enter paradise with Jesus.
stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and
shepherd Moses was transformed into the giver of
the Law and one “whom the Lord knew face to face”
So let us take our part in the Passover...
in God’s terms. He has won for us the victory over
Jesus himself.” Christ is risen—and we are raised with If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who
(Deut. 34:10). Israel was refined and changed from
If you have never gone through Holy Week at Church
ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body. Make
a multitude of slaves into God’s own people, a nation
of the Resurrection, you may be wondering the
your own the expiation for the sins of the whole world.
ready to enter the Promised Land (Deut. 4:20).
same thing: “Why is this week different from all other
him into the newness of eternal life. Let this Holy Week be your invitation to set your countenance on Jerusalem and, like Jesus, to
weeks?” During Holy Week, the church celebrates the Pilgrimage is not just for spiritual “superstars.” The
If you are a Nicodemus, like the man who worshipped
journey to the Passover feast. Let us experience the
Passover of Christ, the “Lamb of God who takes away
Law of Moses called for all Jews to make an annual
God by night, bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for
remembrance of God’s saving deeds and encounter
the sin of the world” (John 1:29). By his blood God has
pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the three great feasts
firsthand the power of the crucified and risen Christ to
delivered us from the slavery of sin and death and has
of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. In fact, our
brought us into the fullness of his promise that we, too,
Palm Sunday procession song, “Who Will Ascend
If you are one of the Marys, or Salome, or Joanna, weep
might share in his resurrection (Phil. 3:10-11).
in the early morning. Be the first to see the stone rolled
Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us;
back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself.
therefore, let us celebrate the feast (1 Cor. 5:7-8)!
God’s Holy Mountain?” is a contemporary setting of Psalm 24—one of the songs of ascent that those
Holy Week invites each one of us to go on pilgrimage:
Jewish pilgrims would sing together on their way up
to journey with Jesus through the gates of Jerusalem,
to Jerusalem. In the holy city they gathered not only
to eat with him and hear his commandment to love one 4
save and heal us.
Scripture references in this introduction are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Scripture throughout the rest of this book is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version,® NIV.® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the entrance of Jesus
and Lord and that he will be victorious in his
as a King into the city of Jerusalem, the historical
mission to defeat sin and death once and for all.
capital of the kingdom of Israel. This kind of entry into the city was well-known in the ancient world. By the
The church has preserved this celebration and enters
time of Jesus, this was a celebration reserved for the
into Jesus’ triumphal arrival to Jerusalem through the
Roman Emperor and his family alone. Historically, the
liturgy and celebration of Palm Sunday, which marks
“Roman triumph” was awarded by the Roman Senate
the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday sets the
to generals and their armies who were returning from
tone for Holy Week as one of ultimate victory and joy.
a decisive military victory. Roman emperors would
The procession on this day holds special significance
stride into the city on horseback with a giant parade,
because it is the beginning of one liturgical movement
dragging along the spoils of war—both riches and
that arcs through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday,
prisoners. As the emperor, his soldiers, and those who
and the Easter Vigil. Historically, the clergy would
were part of his victory party rode into the city, the
begin the procession outside the church. The palms—
crowd would join the procession behind them as they
an ancient symbol of triumph and victory—are blessed
made their way to a temple for a sacrifice.
outside, prior to the procession, and waved by the crowd as the crucifix, Gospel book, and clergy pass
Jesus made an important statement to the people
by. The whole congregation joins the procession and
as he rode into the ancient city on a donkey colt (a
enters the sanctuary together. These palm branches
symbolic animal of peace). Like a great emperor
are saved and later burned to be used as ashes on
returning victoriously from war, he was greeted by
Ash Wednesday of the following year.
the crowds with shouts of triumph and joy and waving
palm branches, “Blessed is the king who comes in
Palm Sunday at Resurrection also has a special
the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38). Jesus’ triumphal
significance for us, as we held our very first service on
entry declares to everyone that he is King
Palm Sunday in 1954.
DEVOTIONAL Palm Sunday is a service of invitation to the journey
Again, we see ourselves in the crowd, realizing
of Holy Week. The service begins on a spiritual high
our own sin of rejecting Jesus. In the grittiness and
point as we remember and celebrate Jesus’ triumphal
length of the Passion reading, we realize the depth of
entry into Jerusalem. Like the crowds in the Gospel
suffering that Jesus endured for us.
accounts (Matt. 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-40),
WHAT YOU SEE & HEAR WAVING PALM BRANCHES: In Matthew 21,
Week. The congregation participates in this reading
it says that crowds placed branches at Jesus’ feet as
by acting as those who call for Jesus’ crucifixion.
he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Palm branches are an ancient symbol of goodness, victory,
INCENSE: Burned as a tangible reminder of God’s
presence with us, incense is traditionally used on holy days. The incense is carried by a person called
A PROCESSIONAL: We march through part
the thurifer. The incense also represents our prayers
of our neighborhood both to partictipate in Jesus’
rising to God in heaven. (Psalm 141:2)
own entry into Jerusalem as a victorious king and to LITURGICAL COLOR CHANGE FROM
announce the beginning of Holy Week.
PURPLE TO RED: A local custom dating back CHUPPAH: This structure symbolically honors the
to the late ‘80s, the shift from purple to red is meant
crucifix, which represents Christ’s presence.
to visually capture the dramatic arc of the service.
during the processional we are invited to worship
The prayers of Palm Sunday focus on Jesus’ suffering.
Jesus in all his glory. We see Jesus for who he truly is:
We are called to imitate Jesus in his humility and to
our King. As we wave our palm branches and walk
walk with him through his suffering and death. We do
with Jesus towards Jerusalem, we experience Jesus’
this so that we might also share in his resurrection and
victory—a victory that we have had a glimpse of in this service. This invitation is not to be taken lightly. If, by
However, when we arrive with Jesus in Jerusalem
faith, we embrace the call to share in Jesus’ suffering
there is a dramatic shift. In the service, we hear the
and allow the Lord to meet us, we will be changed.
Passion reading—the account of Jesus’ trial and
Whether this is your first or fiftieth journey through
crucifixion. The same crowd that was worshiping
Holy Week, the Lord Jesus is calling you to walk this
Jesus now turns against him, calling for his death.
difficult and holy road with him.
YOUR RESPONSE How is the Lord inviting you to walk with him this
What stands out to you most about this service?
week? What does it mean to walk with Jesus in his suffering?
Purple, a royal color, is used for the processional SHOFAR: The blowing of this horn is a local custom
as we usher in King Jesus. Then, after the Passion
based on the Bible’s description of its use as a herald
reading, purple is changed to red, which is the official
of the coming of a king.
color of Palm Sunday and a symbol of Jesus’ death and crucifixion. The changing colors capture the
THE PASSION READING: This passage from
dramatic juxtaposition that takes place, as the same
John’s Gospel is performed as a dramatic monologue
crowd of people goes from praising Jesus to calling
by a member of the congregation in order to orient
for his murder.
the congregation to the ruling narrative of Holy 8
HISTORICAL CONTEXT On Maundy Thursday, we gather for the second
second Exodus. Bread and wine play a significant
service of Holy Week that marks Jesus’ Last Supper
role in the Passover meal, and during the Passover
with his disciples prior to his arrest by the Jewish
meal, unleavened bread and wine is consumed. The
leaders. On this night, the apostle John recorded
unleavened bread is called “the bread of affliction”
that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and gave his
to remind the Israelites of their suffering in Egypt
disciples the model for the Eucharist and a “new
and to remember how they left in such a hurry
command” to love each other as Jesus loved them
that there was no time to let the yeast rise before
(John 13:34). Maundy is a word derived from the
baking. There are five cups of wine integral to the
Latin which means “mandate” or “command.”
Passover meal. There is varied interpretation, but generally, the first four cups correspond to the four
Jesus takes on the position of a menial slave in the
terms God used to describe how he would deliver
act of foot washing. This would have been unusual
Israel from Egypt (Exod. 6:6-8)—literally, they are
behavior for a rabbi at that time—a rabbi should have
cups of salvation. The fifth cup of wine is left at
humility but never give up his station of superior
the place set for Elijah, who it was hoped would
authority. Jesus adorns himself as a slave and
return to announce the coming of the Messiah.
washes his disciples’ feet in the manner of ancient
Jesus connected for his disciples the hope for a
hospitality. It was custom to wash the feet of one’s
second Exodus to the deliverance they would yet
guests before dinner when they had arrived from a
experience in his body’s death and resurrection.
long journey. Normally, disciples would have been the ones serving their master, but Jesus’ behavior
The church continues these practices today on
is different in order to show his disciples how his
Maundy Thursday. The foot washing after the
Kingdom has turned social norms upside down. And,
reading of the Gospel and the sermon was a
he is preparing them for the greatest dinner of all.
common practice by the fourth century. Traditionally, the leader of the church washes the feet of twelve
For this is also the night that Jesus institutes the
poor people on this day. During the day, there is a
Eucharist, the meal we share as the family of God in
ceremony to bless the holy oils used throughout
remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. That
the year. Finally, this is the last Eucharist meal
night Jesus and the disciples shared the Passover
consecrated until Easter Sunday. The priest
meal as the first family of the new Kingdom of God;
consecrates elements for this service and enough
this meal remembers the most important event in
bread for reserve Eucharist on Good Friday.
Jewish history, the Exodus from Egypt. Many Jews
Customarily, Maundy Thursday extends into an all
of the first century were waiting for a Messiah
night prayer vigil, commemorating Jesus’ request
who would lead a military and political takeover of
that his disciples stay up praying with him in the
Israel and reclaim it from Rome; they envisioned a
Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest. 11 11
WHAT YOU SEE & HEAR WASHING EACH OTHER’S FEET: We wash
SHROUDING OF CROSS AND LOWERING
each other’s feet to reenact the same servanthood
BANNERS: We fast with our eyes through these
that Jesus took on for his disciples, as told in John
visual cues of the somber pilgrimage into the last
13. Even as King and God, Jesus stooped down to
hours of Jesus’ life and his crucifixion.
The Maundy Thursday service invites us to allow
In the Gospel reading for this service, the disciple
Jesus into our whole lives. Jesus shows his tender love
Peter is indignant when Jesus asks to wash his feet.
for us through the vulnerability of washing our feet.
Either Peter does not want his Lord to stoop to such
Jesus washes us of our sin through his broken body
a lowly place, or he does not want to show Jesus his
and his blood spilled out on the cross through the
dirty feet (or both!). How easy it is to sympathize with
sacrament of Communion. This service is intensely
Peter in this moment. But instead of appreciating
embodied—we are invited to see, hear, and feel Jesus
Peter’s concern for him, Jesus says, “If I do not wash
you, you have no share with me” (John 13:8).
In the midst of a worship service it feels both bizarre
Jesus displays his incredible humility and the fullness
and startlingly vulnerable to strip off our shoes and
of his humanity—he is not above us or our bodies.
socks and place our feet in a basin of water. The
Jesus became one of us, and a servant to us, in order
foot washing portion of the service forces us to be
that he might bring us into full relationship with God
exposed and vulnerable. It is in that place that we can
the Father—that we might share eternal life with him.
receive healing and the fullness of the Lord Jesus’ love
Jesus’ servanthood, seen in the washing of feet, is then
fully realized in his death on the cross.
As Jesus’ followers, we do the same for one another
RESERVED ELEMENTS: The priest blesses
because this is how Jesus modeled servant love.
extra Communion bread on Maundy Thursday,
Is it more difficult for you to allow someone to wash
which is meant to be consumed during Communion
your feet, or for you to wash the feet of someone
do the dirtiest and lowliest of duties for his disciples.
STRIPPING OF THE ALTAR: We strip the altar
on Good Friday. It is processed to All Saints
of all worship elements and wash it with water. The
Chapel and stored in the Tabernacle, a small
symbols of Christ’s presence in Communion are
locked box. Maundy Thursday through Easter
removed as a reminder of how Christ was stripped
Sunday is technically one long service, known as
and exposed by the soldiers before his crucifixion
the “Triduum,” (The Three Days) with no formal
and also how his body was washed and prepared for
processionals or recessionals.
What stands out to you most about this service?
else? Why? How might the Lord want to minister to you during that moment?
burial by the women.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT Traditionally, the Stations of the Cross refer to
the world, no matter where they might be. The
images depicting the journey Jesus walked from his
fourteen stations begin with Jesus praying in the
condemnation and sentencing at trial to the laying
Garden of Gethsemane and end with his followers
of his body in the tomb. The images are customarily
laying his body in the tomb.
displayed around the sanctuary of a church, and
people are encouraged to visit the stations during
At Church of the Resurrection, we take a journey
Lent. At each station there are prayers, reflections,
around our building together at three different
and scripture read. This journey is thought to
times on Good Friday. An officiant and a musician
have been adapted from the practice of very early
lead the service. Each station is marked by a plain
pilgrims to Jerusalem at Easter who would follow
wooden cross. At each station we read the passage
Jesusâ€™ path on the Via Dolorosa, which was thought
of scripture associated with that moment on Jesusâ€™
to be the actual path Jesus took on his way to being
journey and take a moment to reflect with song
crucified. The Stations of the Cross developed in
and prayer. Our Stations of the Cross service was
order to provide this experience to pilgrims around
designed by Pope John Paul II.
WHAT YOU SEE & HEAR CRUCIFER AND ACOLYTES: The crucifer
FOURTEEN WOODEN CROSSES: We
bears the shrouded Crucifix and the acolytes
journey to fourteen wooden crosses that mark the
bear the torches, as is standard for a procession
traditional fourteen stations. At each station, we
in official church liturgies. The acolytes are youth
sing, pray, and reflect on scripture.
Amidst the intensely corporate pilgrimage of Holy
each action that took place on Jesusâ€™ journey to his
Week, the Stations of the Cross stand out as an
death, we are invited to ponder the intentionality
opportunity for a uniquely individual encounter
with which Jesus embraced his rescue mission.
with the Lord. With a liturgy of only two voices,
Each station takes Jesus deeper into betrayal,
no homily, and a multitude of scripture readings,
suffering, and death, thereby bringing us closer
this service is crafted to be a private devotional
to the moment of our redemption. This paradox
experience. We are invited into a one-on-one
evokes an overwhelming love for our Savior as he
encounter with Jesus as we walk alongside him
suffers and stumbles, and it brings us hope amidst
on the road to his crucifixion. As we contemplate
the darkness of human sin.
YOUR RESPONSE What difficult burden are you being asked to bear in
What stands out to you the most about this service?
this season of your life? How does the way in which Christ carried his cross apply to your journey?
in the church who have been invited into a role of liturgical leadership.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT Good Friday is a solemn remembrance of Jesus’
which the author explains Jesus’ role as our great
sacrifice of his own life so that we might find
High Priest and Mediator (Heb. 10:1-25). At this
forgiveness and reconciliation with God. This is not
time, we return to the same Gospel reading that
a somber recapitulation of Jesus’ death, but rather
we read on Palm Sunday—the Passion (John 18:1–
a thankful and reverently joyful recollection of his
19:37). This service also includes the praying of
death that gave us life. This day and the next—Holy
the Solemn Collects in which we intercede for the
Saturday—are the only two days of the church
church, our nation, and the world. Our Communion
calendar when there is no Eucharistic celebration.
for this service consists of wafers that have already
Traditionally, this service can be held at three
been blessed during the previous night’s Maundy
o’clock in the afternoon or later to mark the hour of
Thursday Eucharist. Good Friday is not a Eucharist
Jesus’ death according to the Gospels.
service because we are remembering that Christ’s body was in the grave, and we are waiting for his resurrected body to bring us new life.
It is believed that the liturgy for this service is derived from the earliest days of Christianity. The service begins in silence and with prayer. The clergy
Finally, we take time to venerate the cross. At
process into the room silently, dressed in black. In
Church of the Resurrection, we lay the cross down
some traditions, they prostrate themselves before
on the chancel stage, and all who are led take time
the cross at this point. Our readings for the day are
to touch the cross and pray. It is a powerful time of
from Isaiah’s Suffering Servant poem (Isa. 52:13
connection with our sacrificial Savior.
–53:12) and from the sermon to the Hebrews in
DEVOTIONAL In the pilgrimage of Holy Week, Good Friday brings
On Good Friday, we celebrate both the specific
us to a somber and contemplative halt. From the
instant in history when Jesus redeemed us and the
moment the silent procession enters the sanctuary
reality that it can meet us in our sinfulness today.
to when we all leave in silence, we are invited into a
We invite the Holy Spirit to give us the grace to
focused contemplation of Jesus’ death on the cross.
acknowledge our personal sinfulness and and then to
Each scripture reading, prayer, and song points us
immediately find forgiveness available at the cross. It
to one man’s experience on an ancient instrument of
is a stunningly personal opportunity to ask the Lord
torture. Why? Because we believe that the moment
to highlight the sins keeping us from drawing close to
Jesus died on the cross was the moment the entire
him and then to set those sins down on the wood of
world was rescued from sin and death. That is why we
spend so much time savoring the reality of the cross.
WHAT YOU SEE & HEAR
YOUR RESPONSE Is there a sinful habit or pattern that the Lord may
What stands out to you the most about this service?
be asking you to give to him this Good Friday? SILENT PROCESSION: The clergy enters the
venerated the wood of Jesus’ actual cross. At
room in silence to highlight Good Friday as the
Resurrection, we believe that this practice takes us
continuation of the long service that begins on
out of time and, by the Holy Spirit, into the event
Maundy Thursday and ends with the Great Vigil of
of Christ’s crucifixion. It is not a reenactment, but
instead a sacred moment when we are given the gift of repentance as we physically touch the cross and
PROCESSION OF THE CROSS: The
are moved by Jesus’ healing presence on the cross.
congregation is invited into the immediacy of the wood of the cross as it is carried through the
PRAYER MINISTERS: Because this service is
marked by the immediacy of the saving power of the cross, we fill the room with prayer ministers who
VENERATION OF THE CROSS: This tradition
are trained and ready to enter into that moment
dates back to the fourth century, when Christians
with you in prayer.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT creativity flowed forth. This continues to be true at Resurrection to this day, as artists are asked to be preachers by using their gifts to proclaim the heart of the Gospel.
The Great Vigil of Easter is the crowning jewel of Holy Week; it begins after sunset on Holy Saturday and extends through the night, culminating in a sunrise service. Of all the services celebrated during Holy Week, the Easter Vigil is the oldest known service of the week. The earliest references to the Vigil are found in the second century AD. In the third and fourth centuries, Christians believed this was the most significant holy day for new Christians to declare their faith and become full members of the family of God.The Easter Vigil celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and looks forward to his coming again in glory to fully reconcile the world to himself.
Because Resurrection was a mobile church from 1990-2012, each move into a new worship space pushed us to a new level of creativity. The move into Glenbard West High School gave us the space for our theatrical and artistic vision to come to full fruition. As the Vigil service grew, we moved into Edman Chapel at Wheaton College, and our artists were challenged to fill a larger space than ever before. Now that we are finally celebrating in our own home, a new level of joy has been unleashed as we adapt to the space that we built specifically to host our Easter services. Through each of these moves, however, Easter has continued to be marked by a bold, creative spirit that is inspired by scripture, liturgy, and the Holy Spirit. In the past, we celebrated the Great Vigil of Easter through a single evening service that often lasted until midnight, and packed in the Service of Light (or Exsultet), the Salvation History readings (or Lessons), baptisms, and Eucharist. We have since spread that arc of events out overnight, starting with our Vigil: Light and Lessons service (4 or 7pm) focused on the Service of Light and the Salvation History readings, followed by the All Night Vigil, and culminating with the Sunrise Service.
At Church of the Resurrection, the Great Vigil of Easter has developed over the years to be a service that highlights our deep desire to meet the Lord through the Sacraments by giving them a holy immediacy. Starting in the 1980â€™s when Resurrection was led by Canon William Beasley, there was a desire to make Holy Week not a series of rituals but a profound time of meeting the Lord. Thanks to his background in theater, Fr. William understood the ability of the arts to make abstract concepts concrete and accessible, and he charismatically drew artists to Resurrection. When he brought actors, visual artists, and musicians into the same room and gave them freedom to interpret the Salvation History readings, an explosion of
This service is in two parts: the Service of Light and
portion of this service, we dramatically reinterpret
the Old Testament lessons. The Service of Light is
the traditional readings of our Great Vigil of Easter
highlighted by the singing of the Exsultet, an ancient
through visual art, theater, dance, and song. The
chant which describes the significance of the night
artists of Resurrection prepare for months in
and the journey on which we will embark together.
advance, writing original songs, crafting new art,
It is at this time that the Paschal Candle is lit from
and theatrically interpreting these scripture stories
a new fire outside of the church. Clergy members
to tell the story of salvation to the church and those
then process into the sanctuary with the light. As
who may never have heard of God’s saving deeds
they reach the doors of the sanctuary, they stop
for all people.
and knock prior to entering. As the Paschal Candle After the dramatic readings are finished, the
enters the room, it is the only light,
Service of Light and Lessons is over.
representing our passage from
Immediately after the second Light
the darkness of death on
and Lessons service, the all
Good Friday into the light of life on Easter Sunday.
night vigil begins with a brief
The Paschal Candle
Candlelight Vigil service
will burn during every
which offers a contemplative
hour of choral music in a
Easter until Pentecost.
different portion of our
In the “Lessons”
WHAT YOU SEE & HEAR THE “NEW FIRE” OF EASTER: Before the Easter Vigil begins a “new fire” is kindled, which is
“THE LIGHT OF CHRIST”: The early church
then used to light the Paschal Candle. This “new
would strike a light on Jesus’ tomb and carry the
fire” represents Christ’s resurrection as the victory
flame with them throughout their celebration of his
of light and life over darkness and death.
resurrection. Today, we light a Paschal candle every year as a reminder of the pillar of fire that led the
SERVICE BEGINS IN DARKNESS: The Vigil:
Israelites to safety in Exodus 13.
Light and Lessons service begins in darkness because this service moves us from the darkness
THE EXSULTET: Also known as the “Easter
of Jesus’ death on Good Friday to the light of life
Proclamation,” this poetic hymn is sung by a cantor
found in Jesus’ resurrection at sunrise on Easter
and brings the salvation narrative of Holy Week into
focus around the Light of Christ. Congregational candles: The light from the Paschal
POUNDING ON DOOR: Bishop Stewart
candle is spread to the whole congregation as a
pounds on the doors of the sanctuary as a reminder
symbol of the intensely personal nature of Christ’s
that Christ broke down the doors of Hell when he
presence with each of us.
defeated death. SERVICE OF LESSONS: Old Testament BISHOP CARVING ON NEW PASCHAL
readings are presented dramatically in order to
CANDLE: Every year, Bishop Stewart carves the
bring a sensory immediacy to the sacramental
Greek symbols “Alpha” and “Omega” to highlight
reality of the texts.
that eternal nature of Christ’s presence with us.
For the rest of the night, we celebrate the Liturgy of the Word, or the vigil readings, in a more contemplative way, spending one hour exploring each reading through worship, an original song,
preaching, and prayer. This experience provides time for us to slow down and dig deeply into the story of salvation.
At 6am the Sunrise Service portion of the Great
Full of the joy of the Resurrection, we then welcome
Vigil begins. After one final Vigil reading, we finally
candidates for baptism and renew our own
reach the moment that we wait for anxiously during
baptismal vows. We then conclude the service by
Lent and all of Holy Week: the Easter Acclamation
celebrating the Eucharist, enjoying together the
and the Holy Noise. The celebrant exclaims to the
meal that makes us one with Jesus’ body and blood
WHAT YOU SEE & HEAR
people: “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” And the people
and unites us with the church throughout the ages.
respond: “The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!” At this
The Eucharist reminds us throughout the year of the
time, we shout and sing and dance as we celebrate
death and resurrection of Jesus which we celebrate
SPIRIT-FILLED PRAYER: As we dive deep into
Service of Light and Lessons, the All Night provides
the hope given to us all those many years ago on
during Holy Week, and the first Eucharist of Easter
the Word of God, there is often a movement of the
an opportunity for preachers to mine the riches of
that first Easter Sunday morning, and we rejoice in
is an especially poignant moment as it concludes
Holy Spirit that causes our pastoral leaders to guide
each Vigil reading.
the expectation of the return of Christ in the future.
our Holy Week pilgrimage.
us in a time of extemporaneous prayer and worship.
This is truly the greatest moment of the entire year.
ORIGINAL SONG: Each hour of the all night PREACHING: After receiving Scripture
Vigil has a different worship leader who has written
powerfully through the dramatic readings at the
an original song based on the reading for that hour.
WHAT YOU SEE & HEAR “HE’S ALIVE!”: This song by Don Francisco
BELL RINGING: The conclusion of the Great Vigil
has been sung at Resurrection Vigils for decades,
of Easter takes place at 6am when the celebrant
and helps make the transition from the many
declares that Christ is risen. Resurrection has taken
hours of quiet waiting into the incredible joy of the
the ancient custom of ringing bells in celebration to
new heights through the “holy noise,” when the entire congregation makes a “joyful noise unto the Lord.”
DEVOTIONAL The Great Vigil of Easter is the crowning jewel in our
As we keep vigil through the night with Jesus, we join
Holy Week pilgrimage. While you may be tempted
with believers who, for millennia, have understood
to think of Easter Sunday as the highlight, in reality
the incredible significance of this evening and have
it is this vigil service that begins in darkness on Holy
given up sleep, despite being near the end of a long
Saturday and erupts into joyous celebration at sunrise
pilgrimage, in order to worship and pray.
YOUR RESPONSE Reflect on your personal history. Where do you see
When was the last time that you were moved by the
Godâ€™s rescue plan breaking into your story?
joy of the resurrection?
Which Vigil reading most moved you?
What stands out to you most about this long service?
on Easter morning that encapsulates our pilgrimage. Hour by hour, we walk with the Lord from death to
This is how we find ourselves dancing and singing at
life, until the glorious moment when a Spirit-filled
sunrise on Easter Sunday, sleepless as we may be. The
impartation of joy is released and we celebrate that
joy of the Gospel overtakes us and we celebrate with
the resurrection is, indeed, real.
childlike freedom the hope that we have as children of the living God.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT Easter Sunday marks the first Sunday of the Easter
At Resurrection, we continue our celebration
season, which continues through Pentecost.
from the Easter Vigil into Sunday morning. For
Originally, in the ancient church, Easter Sunday
each of our Easter services, we repeat the Easter
did not have a proper liturgy because the Easter
Acclamation, we baptize people, and we share the
Vigil continued into Easter Sunday and concluded
Eucharist. These services minister the joy that was
with the Eucharist. Different parts of the church
released through the Great Vigil of Easter.
throughout history used this time to dramatize the women returning to the empty tomb or to consecrate a new church.
DEVOTIONAL We have arrived at our culminating Holy Week
God forever. We will not be with God simply in a
service: Easter morning. One word perfectly sums
metaphorical or ethereal way—no, we are promised
up this service: joy!
that we will share in Jesus’ resurrection. We will be able to physically walk with Jesus in our heavenly
Having walked with Jesus through the suffering,
pain, and anguish of this week, the celebration of
WHAT YOU SEE & HEAR BAPTISMS: Baptism as the passage from death
FLOWERS AND BANNERS: After a season of
to life is powerfully reinforced by the celebration of
visual fasting, the beauty of the Lord’s resurrection
is reflected in the sanctuary being filled with fresh
the Easter service is all the sweeter. Experiencing
The palpable joy in this service comes from being
the weight of our sin and the cost of Jesus’ sacrifice
in the presence of the Lord and is a taste of the
on Good Friday gives us all the more reason to
heavenly joy we will one day experience in fullness.
rejoice at Jesus’ ultimate victory. We recognize the
This service invites us to enter into this glimpse of
depth of the darkness from which Jesus has saved
heaven with childlike faith and to revel in the joy
us. We also rejoice in what we are saved for: eternal
of being with God and in his power. Dance and
life with the Lord. Through Jesus’ final victory, the
proclaim that the Lord is good and that the Lord has
victory over death itself, we are able to be with
done it: he has won the victory!
YOUR RESPONSE When was the last time you experienced or
Easter Sunday is a wonderful day to bring guests. Is
witnessed true joy? How was it different from
there someone you could invite?
feeling simply happy? What stands out to you most about this service?
flowers and bright banners. ASPERGES: We rejoice in our own baptisms as the clergy sprinkle the waters of baptism on the
DANCING: This Resurrection tradition began
in the early ‘90s as a spontaneous response to the healing and joy of the Lord’s presence. It has
EASTER ACCLAMATION: To mark the end
since grown to be an integral part of our Easter
of the Lent and as the climax of our Holy Week
experience, as children and adults alike overflow
pilgrimage, Bishop Stewart proclaims, “Alleluia!
with the joy of the Resurrection.
Christ is Risen!”
A Prayer for Holy Week: Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 34
© 2018 Church of the Resurrection. All rights reserved. 935 W. Union Ave. Wheaton, IL 60187 churchrez.org Editor: Meghan Robins • Assistant Editor: Ellen Richard Design: Alan Miller • Illustrations: Brittney Dunn Introduction: Canon Dr. Stephen Gauthier and Dr. Barbara Gauthier Writers: Meghan Robins, Ellen Richard, Sarah Graham • Copyediting: Anna Robbins, Ellen Richard Production: Bethany McLellan • Photos: Michael Johnson, Ryn Manby Resurrection History: Bp. Stewart Ruch III Resurrected Christ: Laura Tabbut, Janice Wood, and Ray Wu, 2011
Published on Mar 8, 2018
Published on Mar 8, 2018
Resurrection theologians, writers, and artists created this stunning comprehensive guide to the Christian pilgrimage of Holy Week. You can l...