The Liturgy of Easter Eve

A priest incensing the Paschal Candle during t...

A priest incensing the Paschal Candle during the Easter Vigil. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


We welcome you to this combined service of the communities of St. Paul’s and St. Andrew’s in the Valley. All baptized persons are welcome to receive Holy Communion tonight. If you are here on Easter Day, you may receive Communion again. We hope that this celebration of the Lord’s resurrection is a meaningful part of your observance of Holy Week and Easter.


Although it is now more common for people to go to church on Easter Day, this was not always so. This service on Easter Eve is the most ancient Easter celebration of the Church. In the earliest days of the church Christians were meeting before dawn to celebrate the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection. At one time all of what we now call Holy Week was commemorated during this service. Our ancestors began the Vigil in the darkness of night to recall the darkness of death, and by the time the Vigil and Eucharist were finished, the sun had risen, a sign of new life.


Over the centuries the liturgy developed. The other days of Holy Week were celebrated separately, and the Easter Vigil became focused on the resurrection. Still, Christians gathered in darkness, and a fire was lit. Fire is a universal symbol of life, and from that fire each one takes a flame. The story of salvation was remembered, the resurrection proclaimed, and the Eucharist celebrated with thanksgiving and solemnity.


By the early third century, this service was also closely associated with baptism, and it became the normal time for the admission of new Christians to the Church. This is because of the close association in Christian understanding between baptism and the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we are baptized, we become participants in Jesus’ death and resurrection, and this was once powerfully symbolized when baptismal candidates, descending into the baptismal pool (as if in death), were baptized, and ascended to be clothed in white (as if to resurrection).


Notable in this service is the Paschal, or Easter, Candle. “Paschal” is simply another word for Easter, and it comes from the Greek word paschal, which means “Passover.” For Easter is the Christian Passover. Indeed this service is properly called the “Paschal Vigil.” The Paschal Candle is both a sign of resurrection, and a sign of the presence of the risen Christ himself. It remains in a prominent position in the church throughout the Easter season until Pentecost, when it is placed near the baptismal font. Because of its close association with Easter and with baptism, the Paschal Candle is then used throughout the year at baptisms and funerals.


Easter is the “Feast of Feasts,” a declaration that nothing is more powerful than the love of God. By celebrating Easter in this very dramatic fashion, we allow the truth of this declaration to speak to us not just in an intellectual way, but in a way that also engages the senses and the emotions.





The Liturgy of the Lord’s Death on Good Friday


Mourning of Jesus

Mourning of Jesus

Good Friday is the second of the “Great Three Days” (in Latin, Triduum sacrum), and it is the most somber and desolate day of the Christian Calendar. The sanctuary is completely bare. Good Friday teaches us that we must die with Jesus, who died for us.

Egeria describes the veneration of the Cross, which was held by the Bishop for the faithful to kiss. In our own day, the practice of veneration has broadened to include touching with the hand or a simple bow, but all three actions are signs of reverence and thanksgiving for our Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf.

The Way of the Cross is a pilgrimage of devotion, drawing us deeper into our relationship with Christ. We pray, hear the story and meditate on that moment in Christ’s walk to his crucifixion.

Good Friday and Ash Wednesday are the only two days of the year when Christians are encouraged to fast as rigorously as their health and circumstances permit, as a further devotion to our Lord.

Christ our victim Whose beauty was disfigured And whose body torn upon the cross; Open wide your arms To embrace our tortured world, That we may not turn away our eyes, But abandon ourselves to your mercy; For you live and love with the Father And the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen


The Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday

Christ Washes the Disciples Feet

Christ Washes the Disciples Feet

We welcome you to Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church and this service. All are encouraged to receive Holy Communion tonight, even if you have received communion at another service today. We hope that our celebration of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist is a meaningful part of your observance of Holy Week and Easter.

Properly, the season of Lent ends this evening, and the period called the Great Three Days” (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) begins. So, this service marks “the beginning of the end”. From this point, a natural momentum drives us through Good Friday and Holy Saturday to Easter Eve.

This day gets its name from the Latin word Mandatum, which means “commandment”. This refers to Jesus’ words to his disciples on this night: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another”. (John 13:34) Jesus expressed this commandment of love and this spirit of service by washing his disciples’ feet and action which, in Jesus’ day was reserved for the lowest slave in the household.

As a sign that we are called to follow Jesus’ example of love and service, the celebrant removes his chasuble, ties his stole across his chest in the manner of a deacon (a word which itself means “servant”), and washes and dries the feet of twelve persons. This is a simple, but eloquent illustration of our Gospel reading tonight, and emphasizes the constant necessity of works of charity and generosity, even in times of great difficulty. The Eucharist tonight is itself a feast in which we give thanks to God for the sacrament of the Holy Communion. Our weekly Sunday Eucharist is a regular re-living of this last meal spent with friends, and we honor the night in which Jesus gave us this pledge of his continual presence in our midst. For every time we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus himself is really present with us, just as he was present in the Upper Room. And we are in that Upper Room too.

After we have received Communion, the celebrant, acolytes, and members of the Altar Guild strip the main sanctuary of all ornamentation. When the sanctuary is completely cleared, the celebrant washes the altar table, and the church is left bare for Good Friday. During the stripping of the altar, the congregation sits to say Psalm 22, a psalm of desolation, penitence, and hope.

O Jesus our brother, Whose feet were caressed With perfume and a woman’s hair, You humbly took basin and towel And washed the feet of your friends Wash us also in your tenderness As we touch each other, That, embracing your service freely, We may accept no other bondage; For you live and love with the Father And the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen*


The Liturgy of Palm Sunday

We welcome you to Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church and to this service. All are welcome to receive Holy Communion today. We hope that this commemoration of our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem is a meaningful part of your observance of Holy Week and Easter.

The Liturgies of Holy Week are full of drama, movement, symbolic action and remembrance. They all fit together into an entire liturgical experience, and they offer profound riches to those who give themselves to the entire cycle of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday evening, Good Friday evening, Easter Eve, and Easter Day. It may seem like a lot of church for one week, but these services bring us to the heart of our Christian faith, and we shall never begin to understand that faith unless we are willing to walk with Jesus now. Over a lifetime, these services mold the Christian sensibility and forge the Christian soul.

As you enter into the mystery of this week, let the actions, words, symbols, and drama carry you along. Not everything will strike you with equal force, and some things may even be a little strange. But nothing happens this week without a reason, even if that reason is not immediately evident. Some things cannot be explained; they can only be experienced. And having been experienced, they must be allowed to work their transformation within the believer. Though we all feel moments of power and inspiration, this transformation – this conversion – does not happen at once. Little by little, step-by-step, the truths that Holy Week reveals to us become a part of our living conversation with God.

Our Holy Week services first took shape in fourth-century Jerusalem after the time of Constantine, when it became possible for Christians to worship at the sites which have been traditionally associated with Jesus’ last days, and these observances were taken by pilgrims back in their churches at home. So the custom spread of turning every church into a “little Jerusalem” for the re-enactment of the events of this week.

The Liturgy of Palm Sunday begins on a triumphant note, as we bless palms and remember the cheering crowds who welcomed Jesus in Jerusalem. But very quickly we are reminded, in the reading of the Passion Gospel, that this same crowd had turned against Jesus by the end of the week. Human loyalties are extremely fragile. It is always easy to be loyal when things are going well: it is harder to stand by one’s loyalties when the going is tough.

With the exception of Maundy Thursday (when we wear white vestments because of the Feast of the Institution of the Holy Eucharist), the liturgical color of Holy Week is red. Red is the color both of blood and of fire, and signified that we are commemorating the death of the Prince of martyrs. The crosses are veiled to symbolize the solemnity of this week. This custom arouse originally to hide the beautiful and precious metals and stones which have often adorned cross and statues in churches, and has subsequently come to focus our attention away from the crosses to the liturgical action itself in which the clergy and others re-enact the Way of the Cross.

Palm Sunday 2013

Palm Sunday 2013 (Photo credit: redroofmontreal)

Holy Week and Easter Services 2013


Methodist Episcopal Church of Winooski (1918) ...
Methodist Episcopal Church of Winooski (1918) – interior stained-glass (Photo credit: origamidon)

Palm Sunday

March 24, 2013

10:00 AM

 Palm Procession

The Reading of the Passion

Holy Eucharist


English: The Altar of Repose at St James Episc...

English: The Altar of Repose at St James Episcopal Church, Columbus, Ohio following Maundy Thursday services during Holy Week 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maundy Thursday

March 28, 2013

7:00 PM


Holy Eucharist

Stripping of the Altar


Good Friday

March 29, 2013

 The Good Friday Liturgy

12:00 PM

 St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

4620 Linglestown Road

Harrisburg PA

With Reserved Sacrament from St. Paul’s and St. Andrew’s

The Seven

Last Words

12:00 PM

 St. Stephen’s Cathedral

221 N Front Street

Harrisburg, PA

Pastor Kate Harrigan preaching

Veneration of the Cross

Stations of the Cross

7:00 PM

In participation with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Service held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

248 Seneca Street

Harrisburg, PA

The Great Vigil of Easter

March 30, 2013

Participating with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Harrisburg

at St. Paul’s

7:00 PM

Lighting of the New Fire

The Reading of the Exsultet

Holy Eucharist

English: Easter egg at the Palm Sunday fair in...

English: Easter egg at the Palm Sunday fair in the Village Museum, Bucharest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Easter Sunday

 March 30, 2013

10:00 AM

Holy Eucharist

Invitation to a Holy Week Fast

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Czech Wikipedia for th week, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Holy Week Fast


Fasting has great witness in both the Old and the New Testaments and, far from having little value to us in the 21st century, fasting today, with the spiritual purpose of re-gaining Holy Discipline, can be a true spiritual adventure.  We will journey together as a group, eating no solid food but drinking water,  fresh juices, herbal teas and vegetable broths to nourish and fully provide all the sustenance we need. 


For more information about the Holy Week Fast please email  


or phone (717) 421-7753



The Wailing Wall

English: Wailing Wall Jerusalem 2011

English: Wailing Wall Jerusalem 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wailing Wall is the name for the Western Wall at the foot of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the only remaining portion of the Temple Courtyard. Jews have been visiting the Wailing Wall for over 300 years to pray, to meditate, to morn, and to place their written prayers on slips of paper into the cracks and crevasses of the wall.  In the Chapel we have placed our own version of a Wailing Wall.  Built and used by New Hope Community during Advent, their prayers have now become the chain that hangs on the wall. You are encouraged today and throughout Lent to write or draw your prayers and tuck them into a spot on the wall. For Easter Vigil we will offer up all the prayers of both communities.

“Change” We “Can” Believe In



As a Lenten Discipline, the children of St Paul’s challenge us all to a program
called “Change We Can Believe In.” As stewards of the environment and our
resources, they ask us to take an empty can and at the end of each day in Lent


Empty Can

Empty Can (Photo credit: spike55151)


deposit your loose change in it and bring the can to church each week. They will
collect it and at the conclusion of the Lenten season, use it to buy Giant gift cards
that support the ministries of St Paul’s. The cards will then become available for
the rector’s discretionary fund to feed those in need. The collected cans will be recycled to
protect this “fragile earth, our island home. “





The “Breakfast “Club” Tradition Continues

Uptown Chicago Grill (formerly Da Pits)

@ 2nd & Maclay Streets

9:30 am

Prompted by a question following worship on Sunday, the answer is. “Yes, the Breakfast Club continues.” Since early 2011 a loose collection of St Paul‘s members and friends regularly eat breakfast at Uptown Chicago Grill. 

Not actually a club, but St Paul’s members, families and friends meeting for good food and lively conversation.  No agendas – no meetings!  Bring your family and friends along – all are welcome.  Start out your busy Weekends with a great breakfast in a friendly atmosphere.

Most Saturdays between 9:30 – 11:30 am  you’ll find two or three neighborhood St Paul’s members eating at Uptown Chicago Grill, and you are welcome to breakfast with us any time it fits in your schedule. Just tell the staff you are from St. Paul.  They’ve come to expect us. There is always a table waiting. Hope to see you there.

Uptown Chicago Grill website:

Some Reviews:

Homework Assignment


40 (Photo credit: Krynowek Eine)

Pastor Kate Harrigan assigned homework as part of her sermon on Sunday.  We were asked to google the number “40”, learn what we can about it, and then SHOW UP ON SUNDAY.

As Keith and I worked on  this assignment we were reminded that “40 (How Long)” is a song by Irish Band U2 based on the first 3 verses of Psalm 40.

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lift me up out of the pit
Out of the mire and clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long…how long…how long…
How long…to sing this song

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and hear

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

(Sing it!)

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long…how long…how long…
How long…to sing this song

You can find a performance of the song with Lyrics here

What did anyone else find out about “40?”

Published in: on February 19, 2013 at 12:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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