“By his great mercy God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
Easter lies at the very heart of the Christian faith. During Holy Week we walk with Jesus as he endures the evil and suffering of this world, so that come Easter Day we may shout with joy that Christ has risen and sin and death have been conquered.
The week begins with Palm Sunday, the joyful commemoration of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. But even as the crowds sing their Hosannas, we know they will soon change their tune, and so this day is also marked by the first reading of the Passion, the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion.
On Maundy Thursday we come alongside Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper. In this tender scene, Jesus bends and washes his friends’ feet, giving them a new commandment that they should love one another just as he has loved them. This is followed by the giving of bread and wine as his body a blood, prefiguring his sacrifice on the cross and giving a perpetual memory of his sacrifice to his people. The evening finishes with the Watch. As the church is stripped bare, and darkness falls, we follow our Lord to the altar of repose, symbolically accompanying our Lord to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Good Friday is a day of fasting and mourning. The church is bare as we hear again the story of Christ’s crucifixion, death and burial. In the Veneration of the Cross we show our love and adoration for the Lord who took upon himself the sin of this world. As the prophet Isaiah wrote: He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)
Holy Saturday is a quiet day as we recall Jesus’ resting in the tomb. But during the night, the night in which Jesus rose from the dead, we gather to light a new fire, signalling that the light of the resurrection has banished the darkness of sin and death. The light from this new fire slowly spreads, in numerous little candles, throughout the church. We then keep vigil, listening to readings from the Hebrew scriptures, recalling how God has dealt graciously with his people in history. Following the vigil and the proclamation of the Easter Gospel, we renew our baptism vows, remembering that in baptism we share Christ’s risen life. Finally, with great joy in our hearts, we celebrate the first mass of Easter.
Then, in the full brightness of Easter Day we gather as a community to celebrate the most amazing and significant thing to have ever happened in history: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Please join us as we walk together the path of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord.