Dear Friends in Valhalla Parish—
The glory of Easter is the heart of the Christian gospel. It is the centre of the Church’s faith and worship.
This week, we enter into the heart of this deep mystery as we journey with Jesus into the Holy City to shouts of Hosanna, to a final Passover meal with his friends, followed by betrayal, trial, conviction, and state-sanctioned murder. We find ourselves in shock on Good Friday and disoriented on Holy Saturday only to find that everything has changed at Easter.
You can click here to find out more about Valhalla Parish's Holy Week services here.
In the earliest days of the Church, Easter was the only Christian festival: an annual celebration, in one act, of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, and his sending of the Holy Spirit.
The celebration lasted fifty days in one continuous festival of adoration, joy, and thanksgiving, ending on the Feast of Pentecost.
By the fourth century, the Church was adding to its celebration of Easter a week-long commemoration of the events which preceded our Lord’s resurrection, beginning on Sunday with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Christians would recall the final meal Jesus had with his disciples and his institution of the sacrament of the eucharist.
On the Friday they would commemorate Christ’s agony and death on the cross. On Saturday night they would gather for the reading of the scripture, for prayers, for the baptism of their new converts, and then, as the day of the resurrection dawned, for the joyful celebration of Easter. The week before Easter became known as Holy Week.
This is the week into which we are entering this Sunday. And my prayer, dear friends, is that in the midst of this week, we may turn our hearts, we may turn our minds, we may turn our whole selves to entering deeply into this profound mystery of faith.
In Jesus, God has entered history to live with us, as one of us. Jesus enters the world as a vulnerable baby, born to marginalized parents in a marginalized and vulnerable community. In Jesus, God puts all power aside, identifying with the weak and the heavy-laden; The prisoner and the exile; Those who are hungry, sick, or poor.
In this week, we come face to face with God. This is God who will be humiliated in death and yet who will rise again to gather all of us, and all of Creation, in loving embrace.
As we enter this Holy Week, may we open ourselves to the ways in which God will show up, the ways in which God will surprise us, and the ways in which God continues to call us deeper into the journey of self-giving faithfulness and love.
Valhalla Parish Missioner