Dear friends in Christ,
I hope you’re all doing well this Holy Week. Today, the Wednesday in Holy Week, is known as Holy Wednesday or Spy Wednesday because it’s traditionally the day Judas was given the coins to betray Jesus.
Of all the days in the church calendar, I feel Spy Wednesday has the best name. So, I wanted to share that with all of you.
Anyway, here are things going on in the life of the church:
This Thursday is Maundy Thursday, and we have an outdoor service in the parsonage yard at 7:15pm. You may register by contacting the church office or through this link here: https://forms.gle/1JE95PBE2vT1dsgb9
This will be a Tenebrae service with communion. I’ve been monitoring the weather, and it looks like the rain should be well over by the time we get to the evening, so we’re going to stick with having the service on Thursday. It’s set to be a bit chilly, but I anticipate this is going to be about a 35 minute service. Remember to wear a mask, bring a chair, and register ahead.
We also have an online Tenebrae service that will premiere at 7:15 p.m. Thursday on our YouTube channel. The link to that service is here: https://youtu.be/WZNliO855P4
We have our usual livestream service at 10 a.m. on our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/middleburycongregationalchurch We also have an outdoor service at 11:30 a.m. on the Green with communion. Outdoor nursery care will be available. You may register by contacting the church office or through this link here: https://forms.gle/3xaahFpTRENS1Tjx6
Please wear a mask, bring a chair, and register ahead. The choir has also been hard at work on a virtual choir Easter anthem for all of us, so be on the lookout for that being sent out on Easter morning!
In addition to our livestreamed services at 10 a.m., all of April we will be having outdoor services at 11:30 (weather permitting) in the parsonage backyard. There will be Sunday school and nursery care. Here is the registration link for the April 11 service: https://forms.gle/P9jPMxJdxJVpbPDT9
Additionally on the 11th, so long as the weather is good, our very own Kent S-W will offer a demonstration about swords and armor after worship. Some of you might remember Kent’s demonstration during the MCC Talent show. So, stick around for that! You can even bring a picnic lunch if you’d like.
I’m looking forward to our upcoming opportunities to gather together and getting to see many of you in the coming days. I’m also looking forward to Easter, but for now we’re still in the middle of Holy Week.
My favorite underrated day of Holy Week is Holy Saturday, which is traditionally the day the church teaches Jesus descended into hell and rescued those trapped there. It’s known as the harrowing of hell, and it’s more emphasized in the Eastern Orthodox wing of the church. I love this comforting idea that Jesus will follow us to death and even to hell to find us and lead us home.
As we continue through Holy Week, I want to leave you with my favorite description of the harrowing of hell, which comes from this ancient hymn used by the Syriac Church. I think I might have shared it before, but often good things are worth reading more than once:
I stretched out my hands and offered myself to the Lord.
The stretching out of my hands is the sign of my offering
,The stretching out on the wood.
Where the Just One was hanged, there by the roadside.
Hell saw me and was vanquished.
Death let me depart, and many with me.
I was gall and vinegar to it.
I descended with it to the depths of hell.
Death could not bear my face.
I made of the dead an assembly of the living.
I spoke to them with living lips
So that my word should not be in vain.
They ran towards me, the dead.
They cried out, ‘Take pity on us, O Son of God!
Deliver us out of the darkness that fetters us.
Open the gate for us that we may go out with you.
We see that death has no hold on you.
Deliver us also, for you are our Savior!’
And I heard their voices and I traced my name on their heads.
So they are free and they belong to me.
Have a blessed Holy Week.