Letter from the Rector for Holy Week

Lent, 2019

Dear People of Ascension,

As we prepare for Holy Week and Easter, this most central and sacred time of our church year, I have been musing on Mary Oliver’s poem, Gethsemane. It goes like this:

The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did, maybe
the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn’t move, maybe
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wild awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.

One of the gifts of our Holy Week liturgies is that they invite us to walk with Jesus, step by step, through the momentous events of that last week of his life and into the mystery of the resurrection. We move from the exuberance of the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, to the intimacy of the Last Supper, through the agony of the crucifixion to the deep transformation of the Easter Vigil (with a baptism this year!) and the awe-filled joy of Easter morning. Each year, as we experience anew the central story of our faith, we bring the stories of our lives, and they are woven more deeply into the great story of the paschal mystery- Jesus’ death and resurrection, and ours. We bring our “utterly human” failures and our faith; our tears, angers and loves; and our prayers for ourselves, our dear ones, our church and our broken, beautiful world.

Every year I notice something a little different in the story and I am touched in a new way. Sometimes it is a minor character or detail. Perhaps this year it will be the watching stars, crickets, and trees, and the “slumped and eye-shut” friends in the garden. Perhaps noticing, I will wake and watch more faithfully.

Wherever you are in your own spiritual journey, the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter offer a special chance to enter more deeply into God’s love for you and for all. By our participation, we may be converted, strengthened and encouraged to bear that love into the world. A schedule of Ascension’s services is included with this mailing. Please put the flyer on your refrigerator (or wherever you know you will see it) and plan to be with our parish community for as much of the Holy Week journey as you can. In traveling through this week together, we come to the new life of Easter in a particularly powerful way.

Each year we have special expenses for these services, including the flowers that make the church so beautiful for Easter. Please, if you are able, make a donation to help with these costs. You may either donate online with this link, place it in the offering plate on Sunday morning, bring or mail it to the parish office. If you would like to make a gift in memory of someone or in thanksgiving, please make sure we receive your gift by Sunday, April 14, so that we can note it in our Easter bulletins.

May God bless us richly this Holy Week, and bring us to the joy of the resurrection.


The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell

Holy Week Services

Palm Sunday – April 14

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

9am Holy Eucharist

11am Blessing of the Palms & Procession

Festal Eucharist with Choir and dramatic reading of the Passion

7pm Meditation & Sacrament

In Holy Week

6pm Holy Eucharist at Side Altar

Monday Lay Preacher – Micah Trippe

Tuesday Lay Preacher – Stacey Carpenter

Wednesday Lay Preacher – David Cholcher

Maundy Thursday – April 18

7pm Holy Eucharist with Full Choir

With Washing of Feet, Stripping of Altar,
Procession to the Altar of Repose,
and Watch with the Blessed Sacrament

Good Friday – April 19

12 Noon The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

with Choir, Veneration of the Cross and
Communion from the Reserve Sacrament

Great Vigil of Easter – Saturday, April 20

10am Liturgy of the Word

8pm The Great Vigil of Easter

with Full Choir, Lighting of the New Fire,
Holy Baptism and the first Eucharist of Easter

Easter Sunday, April 21

Day of Resurrection

9am Holy Eucharist

11pm Festal Eucharist with Full Choir

7pm Meditation & Sacrament