Holy Week: Kick it up a notch!

13 Responses

  1. Empy says:

    Fond memories of the blaring horn, the flashing light and the firemen coming through the front door, while singing the Exsultet!

    • Scott Gunn says:

      Hey, you outed me! I was going to pretend that happened under someone else’s watch. Anyway, you did a brilliant job of chanting the Exsultet under, shall we say, challenging circumstances. Hope you’re well these days!

  2. Donna Wessel Walker says:

    Love all of this. Glad I have been in parishes and chaplaincies that do kick it up.

  3. Malcolm French+ says:

    Thank you for this. Here in Aotearoa we have more (too much) flexibility, but it is good to be drawn back to the wealth of traditional resources. There is little need to invent new traditions when the existing ones offer such layered experience.

    In my former parish in Canada, there was a longstanding tradition of installing the Christmas Crib inside the altar (turned around for the purpose). When a new honorary assistant and his wife joined the parish, they had been in the practice of setting up an Easter Garden each year. Lacking any other appropriate space, we took the same approach as the Crib, and installed the Easter Garden in pride of place within the altar.

    Once we introduced the Easter Vigil, the next question was how to manage the Easter Garden during the redressing of the Sanctuary. The first year, we simply set it up after he conclusion of the Vigil. It worked, but . . .

    So for year two, we set up the Easter Garden beforehand, and covered the altar with a burlap (think of pragmatic Lenten Array) cover (think rustic Laudian Frontal). When the burlap came off partway through the redressing of the Sanctuary, there was an audible gasp from the multi-parish congregation.

    Being highly traditional does NOT mean that you cannot be creative and original. But creativity and originality are all the better for being rooted in tradition.

  4. James says:

    So, we’ve had a segment of our community at St. Michael & All Angels, Portland OR who have pushed for a Palm only service for years. As the Associate I don’t get the final say, but I’ve continued to make the argument you lay out here. I can’t actually find any evidence of the Palm/Passion combo being an “ancient” practice of the Church, however, and with the Orthodox and many other Protestant denominations following the Palm-only pattern I’m beginning to see the merits of their arguments. Please send help. Specifically, I’m looking for something to read on lectionary history and the decision to include a Passion on Palm Sunday and am not finding anything.

    • Scott Gunn says:

      Good question. Hatchett’s Commentary on the American Prayer Book says that the earliest lectionaries for Palm Sunday used Matthew’s Passion. The same point is made in Kenneth Stevenson’s Jerusalem Revisited. My understanding from someone who recently heard Paul Bradshaw speak is that the Jerusalem pattern was to read the Palm Gospel (and maybe Passion?), because they were in the place to do the pilgrimage. But in most of the West the custom was to read Matthew’s Passion, and also others throughout the week. But the Bradshaw stuff is hearsay that I may be repeating incorrectly. I’ve ordered a couple of his books. Check Hatchett.

      Hope that helps…

  5. Nicely said, Scott. Gives me ideas for encouraging my small church to turn it up a notch!

  6. Linda Kisker says:

    Some sermons and writings seem to be coming right at your heart. This is one of those. For me, it is absolutely the best explanation of those sacred, mysterious, and glorious days and rituals ever. Fr. Gunn, as always, writes with clarity, humor, and brilliance. This one will be printed and kept.

  7. John Miller says:

    Yes, Amen! I will pick just one nit. Unless you have one of those Easter Vigil Baptisms with lots of guests, put the sermon after the history of salvation and before the Great Alleluia. (The rubric allow this! look it up.) Faithful members of your congregation are not going to miss an Easter sermon, but this unique chance to preach on hope and trust in god in the dark moments just before dawn and then pay it off with the proclamation of Christ risen is unique and powerful.

    • Scott Gunn says:

      I agree that placing the sermon there can be effective. For what it’s worth, I’d still preach about Easter and the Paschal Mystery, though differently, of course. Personally, I can’t imagine NOT preaching about the Resurrection at the vigil, regardless of sermon location.

  8. Harlie Youngblood says:

    Hi Scott!
    I’m sending this brief non-message right now, just to get into your system. Later this evening I’ll post a real comment. Love your blog! (Now I have to go feed the dogs)

    • harlie youngblood says:

      In your comments about Palm Sunday you reached in past my teeth and took the words right out of my mouth! I have always been opposed to a “passionless Palm Sunday” for the very reasons you put forth, not only because it is liturgically weak, but because it takes liberties with the Prayer Book which have not been granted by General Convention.
      I have seen a “Palm Only” liturgy where the Eucharistic Gospel is about the Triumphal Entry and then, after the Post-Communion Prayer, the Passion Gospel is read. But, to me, this makes the Passion look like a non-essential, tacked-on extra.
      The Crucifixion pervades every day of Holy Week, and it’s only fitting that we begin
      that week with the Passion Gospel.