There is no other week in the Christian calendar that brings us from the highs of Palm Sunday to the darkness of Maundy Thursday to the depths of Good Friday and back to the pinnacle of Easter Sunday. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride! And as a congregation, we embody and relive some of that raucous and then solemn and then joyful journey.
Palm Sunday was jubilant at Plymouth, including the most vigorous palm-frond waving I’ve ever seen! But it doesn’t really work in a narrative sense to skip right from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. This isn’t a week without deep intimacy and tragedy, and to miss that is to diminish the capital-M Mystery of Easter. As is often said, we cannot have Easter’s resurrection without Good Friday’s crucifixion.
My son Chris’s favorite service of the year is the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae service, which demonstrates the shadowy nature of the Last Supper and crucifixion. Many young people “get” the drama of this service, and this year Brooklyn McBride will gather our youngest worshippers and supply them with glowsticks! Our hard-working deacons arrange a simple soup supper at 6:15 in advance of the 7:00 service. (So sorry that snow and frigid temperatures caused us to cancel the Ash Wednesday soup supper!) Join us for this service that will help all of us understand, in both a cerebral and an affective way, the final steps in Jesus’ ministry.
Good Friday is the day of tragedy for Christians. (Even the New York Stock Exchange stops trading for the day!) And we are providing a midday opportunity for you to join us at Plymouth at 12:15 for a program of organ music, spoken word, and quiet meditation. It is a service that helps us as worshipers to feel and acknowledge a small part of the depths of human tragedy.
Easter Sunday at Plymouth reflects the triumph of God’s YES to life, of God’s realm over empire, of love over violence. Our worship embodies this with glorious hymns and alleluias, brass and timpani, abundant flowers, and a celebration of the resurrection. Easter Sunday at Plymouth also means cinnamon rolls from the Silver Grill at 10:00 and an Easter Egg Hunt at the same time. (Did you know that blown Easter eggs reflect the empty tomb and that an Easter egg roll is emblematic of rolling the stone away from the tomb?) I would strongly recommend arriving early for either the 9:00 or 11:00 service. It’s also a great Sunday to invite a friend to church, someone who might need the gift of Plymouth in their lives.
For me, Easter has a special meaning this year. We all have lived through the shadows and depths of the pandemic, and it seems that as a world and as a congregation, we finally are experiencing resurrection. As Paul intimates, it is with a somewhat different body. The world is not exactly the same as it was three years ago, nor is Plymouth the same as it was before Covid. But we are here to testify to its resurrection.
P.S We are “mask-friendly” at Plymouth, so you are welcome to wear a mask but are not required to do so.
P.P.S. You can find the livestreams (and recordings) of the midweek services on our Holy Week & Easter page.