By Father Casey
We’re on the doorstep of Holy Week. On Sunday, we begin our annual pilgrimage through the Passion of our Lord. As I say every year, for the Christian there is no greater obligation during Holy Week than our devotion to Christ. As busy as we all are, and as many distractions fill our lives, we must be especially disciplined in our faith, so we do not miss the sacred gift we are offered in Holy Week. As Fr. Roper wrote the people of Transfiguration many years ago, “We live in a world that is confused, bored, frustrated, and harassed. In the face of this, Holy Week offers us the opportunity to participate in the greatest realities of life, to visit the mountain top of history, to have a vision of the meaning behind an beyond all human existence.”
For the second year in a row, we must experience this holiest of weeks in unusual ways, but unlike last year, it will not be an entirely virtual journey. The staff and I have worked hard to create meaningful indoor, outdoor, and at-home experiences, and I hope you will embrace them. If you haven’t reviewed the schedule of offerings for Holy Week, please do so soon and register to join us. For the sake of health and safety, we have limits on the number of attendees for certain events, but as of Friday afternoon there were openings at every service.
Of special note, we are still very much in need of people to keep watch before the Sacrament from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday, especially in the long hours of the night. The Altar of Repose will be in the Gathering Space, and watchers will be able to walk the labyrinth as they pray through their hour with Jesus. If you would like to participate, please register here.
As always, Holy Week will culminate with the Great Vigil of Easter. This service is the pinnacle of the Church’s life, when we honor the whole arc of salvation history and how it culminates in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is one of those services that actually captures the drama of the events it helps us remember. Last year, we mourned the loss of this service, which always draws our largest congregation of the year. I am thrilled that we will once again celebrate the Vigil, this year in a special new way.
By ancient tradition, it is conducted between sunset on Saturday and sunrise on Sunday, and typically Transfiguration follows the custom of holding it Saturday evening. This year, in order to welcome as many people as want to attend, we are celebrating the Vigil outside beneath the Belltower, and in order to have just enough light to see, we will begin at 6:30 a.m. After we light the new fire, sing the Exsultet, hear the stories of salvation, and baptize a new Christian, we will ring out the first Alleluias of Easter just as the sun rises over the horizon.
I know it’s early! I know it’s not “what we always do.” But it is going to be incredible, and it may just help us understand the story of Easter better than ever. After all that we’ve endured this past year, when we’ve lived through so much suffering and loss, who doesn’t feel more deeply connected to Christ’s great victory over sin, evil, and death?
So please, dear friends in Christ, sign up and show up. You will be blessed beyond measure, for as we praise the one whose arms of love were stretched wide on the hard wood of the cross, we will nestle our souls more deeply within his saving embrace.