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Don't Miss a Chapter!

My one-year-Bible-reading plan goes in fits and spurts. If I stay on the current track it will have taken me only 1 ½ years.

Last fall I was going with the plan fairly well, which meant that as the calendar entered the month of December, my reading plan entered the four gospels. How wonderful to be reading the story of the birth of Jesus during that time. It clearly was meant to be.

I’ve had a reading lapse since then, so when I started up again recently, I found myself at the end of the gospels, and into the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. I’ll be through the passion story all too soon. Again, it clearly was meant to be, to have these stories presented to me at the appropriate time in the church year.

Lent seems to be rolling along OK. Both Advent and Lent are times of preparation. But Advent is also taken up with Christmas shopping and decorating our homes. Unless you have young children who are into Easter egg hunts, Lent doesn’t have that same preparation urgency, so it seems calmer.

But, soon enough it will be Holy Week. And then the church is moving!

Whether you participate in services at St. Stephen’s or elsewhere, plan on attending as many Holy Week events as you can. They tell a complete story. Don’t miss a chapter.

Here’s what we’re doing at St. Stephen’s:

Sunday, March 20, Palm/Passion Sunday. We’ll start the morning at 9:40 by joining with New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church and walking down Pennsylvania Avenue to the intersection of Pennsylvania and Delaware.. We’ll probably scare a few homeless folks out of the park, but we’ll attract some residents from Luther Towers as we gather to bless our palms and honor Jesus.

This will be followed by worship service where the passion story will be told through words and symbols, preparing us to enter the week with this story in our minds.

Maundy Thursday, March 24. During 7:30 worship we will remember Christ’s humbling of himself as we join in washing the feet of our fellow worshipers. We will remember his words during communion as he shared the bread and wine with his disciples. We will remember Christ’s commandment to love one another. And we will strip the altar to its barest form as we prepare our hearts and minds for the darkness of Friday.

Good Friday, March 25. The sanctuary will be open from 12-3 pm, allowing people the opportunity to come in a pray or just enjoy the silence. At 7:30 worship we will again listen to the passion story, shared by different voices, reiterated through music. We end the service in darkness and silence as we remember Christ’s death on the cross.

Easter Vigil, March 26, 7:30 worship. The Vigil service takes us from the darkness of Good Friday to the joyous celebration of Christ’s resurrection. We hear Bible stories and music that remember the history of God’s people in exile and exodus. We reaffirm our Baptism and our promise to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed. Only at that point do we enter our sanctuary, decorated for Easter, and celebrate Christ’s resurrection around the communion table.

Easter morning, March 27. We join as a community for breakfast beginning at 8:30 am, starting the day with food and conversation. A great opportunity to sit and get to know our neighbors from New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church. Easter worship begins at 10 am, where we will again celebrate Christ’s resurrection as we sing, reflect and share in communion.

It’s a complete week. It’s a complete story. Don’t miss a chapter.

- Ann Warner

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