Walk with Jesus to Easter

The Rev. Bill Breedlove and the Rev. George Choyce celebrate Eucharist during The Great Vigil of Easter.


Walk with Jesus to Easter

            Over the centuries the Easter story has given birth to beautiful and moving liturgies to help Christians enter into Jesus’ last days. Good Shepherd Episcopal Church invites you to a variety of special services Wednesday through Saturday night as we journey with Christ. The full Holy Week schedule of services beginning with Palm Sunday April 14 through Easter Sunday can be found on the church website at www.goodshepherdhayesville.org.

            On Wednesday April 17 at 11:00a.m. Holy Eucharist is focused on Generational Healing in which we bring all our family generations into the cleansing spirit of Holy Week. Our families, with all their gifts and woundedness, will be offered at the altar for blessing and healing. Individual prayer will also be available.

            Thursday at 7p.m. we observe Maundy Thursday, when Jesus gave the new commandment (mande) “That we should love one another as he first loved us.” The demonstration of self-giving is the washing of feet. Following Holy Communion, the church is stripped of all decoration just as Jesus was stripped of his garments before his crucifixion. All candles and lamps are extinguished, symbolizing the darkness of the world without God.

            At the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus agonized in prayer, and asked his disciples, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” Throughout Thursday night we are invited to come to “the garden” in the side chapel for quiet prayer and meditation in preparation for the events of Good Friday. The official watch ends with Stations of the Cross at 7a.m. Friday morning.

            Noon on Friday brings the second of this complex series of rites which cover the Three Sacred Days of our redemption. We hear the account in Holy Scripture of the Lord’s trial, suffering, and death. A large cross is borne into the center of the church where all have an opportunity to pray before the cross and add our nail at its foot. Following Holy Communion (from the Sacrament consecrated the previous night), we leave the church in silence or proceed to the Parish Hall for Hot Cross Buns.

            Friday night’s offering is the film “God on Trial,” shown at 7pm in the Parish Hall. Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz during World War II put God on trial in absentia for abandoning the Jewish people. The subject content of this 86 minute film is for mature audiences. There will be no discussion.

            The Great Vigil of Easter begins Saturday night at 7p.m. It is a memorable enactment of the theological center of the Christian faith and life. It begins with the words, “Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death.”

            This ancient and beautiful liturgy moves us from darkness into light. It begins with the lighting of the Paschal candle with a spark generated the Native American way by member Darry Wood. Beginning with the story of creation, an additional candle is lit with each reading of the Hebrew scriptures until we reach the Good News of the New Testament when full light is restored. As we renew our baptismal vows, the first Holy Eucharist of Easter is joyfully celebrated.

            Of course, the traditional Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday services are offered to all at 8a.m. and 10:45a.m., but we hope you will explore these lesser-known opportunities to participate in the life of Christ as part of your own spiritual journey. Good Shepherd Episcopal Church is located at 495 Herbert Hills Drive, one mile east of Hayesville on Highway 64.