Path to hope

Published 5:30 pm Saturday, April 4, 2009

For all Christians, the celebration of the the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is only a week away. But for many, the journey toward that celebration begins today.

“Holy Week is the beginning of the most solemn week of the church’s year,” said Father Eamon Miley, pastor of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church.

Holy Week, a week celebrated by Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists and some other Christian sects, begins the journey leading up to the Resurrection event. “In Holy Week, we symbolically walk with Jesus on his last days,” said Father Jeffrey Gibson, pastor of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

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Holy Week begins with the remembrance of Palm Sunday, the day Christ journeyed into Jerusalem and was adored by those gathered. “He comes riding on an donkey, and they are all cheering ‘Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,’” Miley said.

But, just a few days later, the story quickly turns. It’s a biblical tale that goes from the joyous events of Palm Sunday to betrayal and crucifixion — that’s the walk Gibson said members of these churches will experience this week.

“We engage in the willing suspension of disbelief, so we can experience both with great joy and great mystery with Jesus this unfolding drama,” Gibson said.

And so these churches, day by day, will take part in a great mystery that leads up to Christ’s death, and ultimately, his resurrection, Miley said. On Thursday, St. Martin’s, St. Mark’s and First United Methodist Church will each hold Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, services commemorating Christ’s Last Supper with his apostles.

“He gave them his body and blood, and he washed the feet of his disciples,” Miley said. “That’s symbolic of Jesus telling us we are here to serve people, and he gives us the example of serving.”

Friday, the Catholic and Episcopal churches will remember the death of Jesus through a Good Friday service. “Good Friday we sit at the cross and participate in a liturgy remembering the crucifixion,” Gibson said.

But while Holy Week calls church members to share in the suffering of Christ, it ultimately is fulfilled in the greatest Christian joy, that is the Resurrection, the pastors said. “We believe to come to church on Palm Sunday and not return until Easter Sunday leaves one without the whole mystery,” Gibson said. “You really haven’t participated with Jesus unless you have walked that whole path.”

Both the Catholic and Episcopal churches will begin the Easter season Saturday night at sundown.

“Holy Saturday is the traditional beginning of Easter where we have the first Eucharist of the Easter season that actually beings at sundown,” Gibson said.

And all three churches will also have an Easter Sunday service to celebrate the center of the Christian faith — the Resurrection.

Church services for Holy Week at these three churches will be: St. Martin’s-Palm Sunday, 10 a.m., Holy Thursday and Good Friday 7 p.m. and Holy Saturday 7:30. St. Mark’s-Palm Sunday, 9:30 a.m., Maundy Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Good Friday, noon and 6:30 p.m., Holy Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Easter Sunday, 9:30 a.m.

First United Methodist-Monday to Thursday, noon services, Maundy Thursday, 7 p.m., Easter Sunday, 10:55 a.m.