Holy Week at Westminster Church
Palm Sunday through Easter, is the pinnacle of the church year. While our consumer culture has embraced Christmas, the faithful stop for a holy week, to acknowledge Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, his struggle, death, and resurrection. We pray you will strengthen your own faith by taking this sacred week seriously and celebrating God’s loving care by joining us in worship on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. The following is a description of what is in store for you throughout Holy Week at Westminster. Join us and experience God’s wisdom, love, and care.
Traditionally, Palm Sunday is also recognized as Passion Sunday. This year Westminster had a very special Palm/Passion Sunday. Pastor Scott and Pastor Bill presented a Tenebrae play as an act of worship. The word “Tenebrae” means “shadows.” The service depicted the events that led to the crucifixion. The shadows increase as the candles were extinguished, resulting in an encroaching darkness, symbolizing the flight of the Disciples and the approaching hour of the crucifixion. The events in the play were remembered and discussed in a dialogue between Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot.
Since the time of the Exodus, long ago, Jewish families have shared a special meal during the time of the Passover, each year. The Jewish Passover and the Christian Holy Week overlap in the time of year they are celebrated. As a church family, we will share a similar type of Passover meal together on Maundy Thursday. The congregation will be able to sample each element of the meal.
Many followers of Jesus are familiar with the Jewish Passover, which is the time when God sent the angel of death to “pass-over” Egypt, killing all the first-born children whose families did not brush blood over their door posts. However, not as many Christians have encountered the Passover’s deep connection to our Christian past.
You are invited to join us in The Commons for the Maundy Thursday Service of Worship on April 18, at 7:00 p.m. This service is around tables, and we encourage children and youth to participate.
Reflection on Good Friday
by Rev. Jan Scott Assoc. Pastor
The dichotomy of knowing our mortality and still living with the power of hope is never more apparent than on Good Friday, a religious day in which we recognize suffering and death yet may approach it with strains of promise. Perhaps that is why it has been named as “good.”
Some congregations have moved away from acknowledging this dark day, preferring to gloss things over on Palm Sunday with optional passion texts available from the common lectionary and move quickly to Easter Sunday. Perhaps this is done to avoid confronting the fact that suffering and death have a significant part in the story of Christ.
Only, it seems, the western Church has found itself uncomfortable with the dichotomy of sacrifice and death which Good Friday brings. Yet, those nations, communities and individuals who know about suffering will embrace this day of crucifixion as a necessary component of the Lenten journey. Suffering people embrace a Lord who suffered and a Lord who suffered embraces the suffering. We can not fully appreciate Easter Sunday without first traveling through a dark time named as “good.”
What does Good Friday mean to you? Can you live with the dichotomy of the crucifixion account, that is, knowing of your own mortality and holding on to the living power of hope?
I invite you to embrace the enveloping darkness of Christ’s suffering and death on Good Friday, to wrap its cloak of repentance and humility around your shoulders and prepare yourself for the promises of Easter morning. And in doing so may you then understand how it is “good” in the story of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Pageantry, trumpets, flowers, Spring dresses, children in their finest and family gatherings surround worship at Easter. It is a celebration of new life and new hope. It encapsulates the mystery of God’s salvific work in Jesus Christ through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The Eastern Orthodox Church emphasizes Jesus’ triumph over death in the celebration of the resurrection. All of humanity, life itself had been bounded by the inescapability of death. Jesus came through death victorious, raised to new life. On Easter morning we greet one another in an exultant affirmation of this victory over death: Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
John Calvin and other Reformed theologians emphasized Jesus’ atonement for our sins. In the great mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection our sins were forgiven. We were redeemed and reconciled with God. The mystery of atonement has been described in different ways throughout the history of the Church. Through the example of his moral life, by his payment of our ransom, by being the new perfect Adam, through his substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf, and by his victory over evil and violence, Jesus changed all of history, and changed us individually. On Easter we celebrate the cosmic power of the day of resurrection that forever opened the door for our at-one-ment with God.
We celebrate on Easter the new life that Jesus made possible for us. We appreciate our return to the vocation of Adam and Eve, to be gardeners tending to God’s creation, bearing God’s image and right rule wherever we go.
So, come and gather with us as we celebrate victory over death, our reconciliation with God and our new life partnering with God. As we gather with family in Spring dresses and fine clothes, with flowers and trumpets let us come into the Sanctuary and bring our triumphant worship and praise.
At the end of each worship service the choir invites people in the congregation to sing the Hallelujah chorus with them.
Easter Story Celebration: A Celebration for All Ages
by Tiffany Hays, Christian Education Director
Over the past few years we have cultivated an annual tradition at Westminster of sharing the story of the resurrection through interactive stations at our Easter Story Celebration. We continue this tradition on Easter Sunday at 10:00 a.m. See the list below to learn about all the activities! This year, we will be adding a family photo area where families of any age can gather to have their photo taken. A 4”x6” print will be available for you to take home, but we will also send it to you via email. We hope you will consider inviting friends and family to enjoy this Easter Story Celebration. We look forward to seeing you there!
Experience the Story!
- Move the stone that was placed in front of the tomb through an obstacle course.
- Engage in a multi-sensory experience by walking through the tomb where Jesus was laid.
- Experience a dazzling discovery as the children behold a wondrous sight and hear how the angel came to the women at the tomb when they found it empty.
- Celebrate the full story of the resurrection and new life as it is told by youth volunteers in an interactive drama.
- Celebrate new life with the presence of small creatures.
Easter Sunday isn’t the end of the celebration. Westminster’s traditional Sunday-after-Easter Jazz service continues this Eastertide celebration. Jazz Sunday, April 28, will feature the much-loved music of the Big Band era! This year, Karla Killinger will bring back musicians and music from her father’s Big Band and will also include some of our talented church musicians.
Karla is a third-generation music educator, and is the daughter of the late Karl Killinger, the renowned bandmaster and teacher. After WW II, Karl started a dance band and, along with his brother Keith and sister Wanda, the Killingers provided dance bands and show bands throughout the United States and Canada from the 1940’s – 1990’s. Karl and his wife, Evelyn, were Westminster members for over 50 years.
Having played in her father’s dance, show & circus bands, Karla has a passion for sharing the music of the Killinger library. So whether you stream Big Band music on your phone, or remember it playing on your grandparents’ phonograph, you will enjoy the upbeat music played by uniquely talented musicians. Jazz Sunday is part of the Westminster Fine Arts’ Series. Learn more about the Fine Arts Series at westpres.org/finearts. Come, attend this toe-taping service of worship. You will not be disappointed.
Each Sunday during Lent and Holy Week a new symbol will be
hung in the Sanctuary.
March 6:Ash Wednesday:
dust to dust, ashes to ashes
The fruit is a symbol of the offering the Israelites were told to make to God as they entered the promised land to remind them that everything they have was from God.
Covenant - The dove is a symbol of baptism. St. Patrick recognized God’s covenant to carry him through his challenges of Evangelizing to the Irish people.
The Apostle Paul helps us partake of spiritual food and drink to bring us closer to God.
Trust – The Israelites trusted God to provide mana in the wilderness. Apostle Paul calls the new Christians to Trust God which will give them the ability to accomplish all things.
Symbols and Logos – Family Promise and Refugee Garden.
Good Friday – Crown of Thorns
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Easter Sunday: Resurrection