Holy Week gets its name because it is central to our faith. Without the events of that week there would be no Christian faith. We often talk about “commitments” when we mean distractions. This week tells us about God’s commitment to us - what about our commitment to him? So let us give our attention to Jesus: hear his voice afresh; experience the touch of his love; resolve once more to be his follower. Please make the effort to be with us, especially on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day.
Services during Holy Week begin with Palm Sunday on Sunday, 29th March. Processing into church with our palms we realise that the people who take part in the drama of Holy Week were much like ourselves. In church we hear a dramatised account of the Passion according to St. Mark. Our aim throughout this most Holy Week is to draw close to Christ in his Passion - even as we realise that we are there with the crowd baying for his blood, or in the shoes of St. Peter, saying we will never desert him and then denying him three times. Do we have the will to walk with Jesus throughout this week? Palm Sunday helps us make a good start.
On Monday 30th March there’s a Eucharist at 2p.m. in Derwentdale Court. There’s also a United Service in St. Cuthbert’s for all the churches of Shotley Bridge, Blackhill and Bridgehill at 7.30p.m. Further, more reflective, services are held in St. Cuthbert’s on Tuesday and in St. John’s Church, Castleside on Wednesday - so it’s possible to join in worship each day of Holy Week. On Tuesday morning there’s the opportunity also to take part in the “Stations of the Cross.” We use the pictures in church which depict Jesus’ journey to the Cross as a guide to meditation “on the move” - our aim: to draw closer to Christ at this time of his Passion.
On Maundy Thursday, 2nd April, the clergy of the diocese take part in the “Chrism Mass” with the renewal of ordination vows in the Cathedral. There also the Bishop blesses the holy oils for use in Baptism, Confirmation and the anointing of the Sick. There is no Thursday morning Eucharist that day - the parish celebration is reserved for the evening; please join us then!
It's on Holy / Maundy Thursday evening with the Sung Eucharist of the Last Supper that we begin the "Triduum," the Great Three Days which are at the centre of our faith. Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, breaks bread with his friends and then turns to face his Passion. He wants us to be with him. As this service closes, we have the opportunity to remain for a time in church for silent prayer, just as Jesus watched in the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples. After being in Castleside for this service last year, we’re now back at St. Cuthbert’s. Come and join us.
Good Friday brings us to the Cross. At 10.00a.m. there is a special service for all ages - see the extent of God's love for us, that it can bring his Son to die for our sake. At 2.00p.m. we mark our Lord's last hour on the Cross with a Solemn Liturgy of the day, including St. John's account of the Passion and Holy Communion - as on Maundy Thursday we leave the church in silence without a dismissal: God's work is still to be completed….
We recognise the fullness of God’s work on Easter Day. From the darkness we come to celebrate the triumph of light, the victory of the Resurrection and the power of Christ's risen life over death. In our 10.30a.m. Sung Eucharist the Easter flame is lit, and we are called to the renewal of our Baptismal faith and hope - today the call goes out to all who would put their trust in Christ:
If any be a devout lover of God, let him partake with gladness from this fair and radiant feast. If any be a faithful servant, let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord. If any have wearied himself with fasting, let him now enjoy his reward....
Enter, all of you, into the joy of our Lord. First and last, receive alike your reward. Rich and poor, dance together. You who have fasted and you who have not fasted, rejoice today. The table is fully laden: let all enjoy it. Let none fear death; for the death of the Saviour has set us free.
May the love of Christ,
crucified and risen,
fill your life with his joy
Join us at St. Cuthbert's during Holy Week and Easter-tide. See our Calendar page (use the tabs above) and get more information from our online Parish Magazine.