EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 23, 2013

Christians begin Holy Week with prayers, drama and music to prepare for Easter

The story of Jesus’ last days on earth come alive as Christians act out the events during Holy Week services.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday when parishoners walk into church waving palm fronds and singing ‘Hosanna’ just as the crowd did when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.

The Rev. Stephanie Chase Bradbury, pastor at St. Paul Episcopal Church in North Andover said Holy Week are the days leading to Jesus’ death on Good Friday and his Resurrection on Easter.

“There are three main parts to the Jesus story, his life, death and resurrection. Holy Week allows us to focus on those two to remember the story, the message and ponder on its meaning,” Chase Bradbury said.

Catholic bishops and cardinals will bless the oils on Tuesday which will be used during baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick and holy orders and distribute them to each pastor. Priests and deacons also renew the promises they made when they were ordained.

The highlight of Holy Week is the Tridduum — Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

During worship on Holy Thursday, service include washing the feet of 12 church members, just as Jesus did to his disciples commemorating His commandment to serve all people. He also shared the Passover Seder with his disciples, leading to the institution of Holy Communion.

Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, churches host Tenebrae, a Latin word for shadows. During the service, scripture is read followed by the extinguishing of lights until the church is left in darkness.

Another tradition is the stripping of the altar.

Chase Bradbury said after the service, the ministers and others on the altar remove their vestments as members of the altar guild dressed in black carry away the Bible, candlesticks, chalices, cross, books, and altar cloth. As they do this, the lights are dimmed slowly.

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