Palm Sunday

The Lenten reflections have come to an end, but there will be reflections and sermons posted throughout Holy Week, up to Easter Day.

The following is the calendar for Holy Week and Easter at St Augustine’s, Grove Park.
Also the Vicars letter for Holy Week.

Calendar for Holy Week

25th                 Holy Monday         8pm Silent Prayer and Reflection
26th                 Holy Tuesday        8pm Stations of the Cross
27th                Holy Wednesday     10am Eucharist 8pm Compline and Reflection

28th           Maundy Thursday
8pm Mass of the Last Supper and Vigil

Vigil includes prayers at 10pm and Compline at 11pm

29th         Good Friday
10am Procession of Witness
Noon Church open for Silent Prayer
12.45 Stations of the Cross
2pm Liturgy of the Cross
7pm   Music for Good Friday

30th         Holy Saturday
11am Children’s Workshop & Egg Rolling
8pm Lighting of the New Easter Fire

31st         Easter Sunday     10am Family Eucharist

Holy Week Letter

Dear friends,
This week we enter into the sacred time of Holy Week. It is the most significant week of the year for Christians as it takes us on a journey through the final days, hours, and events of our Lord’s life, and once again brings us face to face with all its pain and all its joy; with all its ugliness and all its beauty. It is a week of extremes and is something of a rollercoaster of a journey. The danger for us is that we will tend to lean towards one of those extremes at the expense of the other. Those who are going through a difficult time often get wrapped up in the pain and the anguish of Good Friday that they lose sight of the joy and hope of Easter Sunday. But many others choose to opt out of the painful bits all together and just jump in at the end as if the rest of the week never happened. It’s a bit like watching that classic film: “It’s a Wonderful Life” but after the first 10 minutes fast forwarding to the last 10 minutes for the happy ending. The end of the film has no impact if you have not journeyed through all that built up to it. Easter is like that. Without journeying through the other Major liturgies of Holy Week the impact of Easter is limiting. So I would encourage you to join in as much as you can of this incredible week, and allow the redemptive act of Christ to imprint itself on your life afresh.

The week begins reflectively with Silent Prayer and Reflection on Monday at 8pm. On Tuesday at 8pm there will be Stations of the Cross; these are meditations on the journey of Jesus to the cross, beginning with his trial before Pilate. Most of the Stations are Biblical events, though some are from tradition. For these meditations we process around the church stopping at each station for a short reflection.

On Wednesday there will be the usual Eucharist at 10am and at 8pm there will be Compline and a Reflection

On Maundy Thursday we move into the major liturgies of Holy Week. At 8pm in the evening we celebrate the Mass of the last Supper. This service includes the washing of hands (which we do in remembrance of Jesus washing his disciples feet); and remembering the Last Supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples. The service ends with the stripping of the altar and sanctuary as the mood of week begins to change and Jesus arrest and trial approaches. Following the Eucharist vigil is kept in the Lay Chapel until Midnight, remembering the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his betrayal and arrest. You can come and go as you for any part of this vigil. The silence will be broken by prayers at 10pm; Compline at 11pm; and ends with a reading of scripture at Midnight.

Good Friday is probably the most significant and sacred day of the Christian year. The day begins at 10am with the Procession of Witness beginning at St Augustine’s and ending with prayers at Lee Green shopping centre. For this we join with the other Lee Churches.
At Noon the church is open for prayer and 12.45pm we once again have Stations on the Cross.
In the evening at 7pm there is Music for Good Friday of which there is more information elsewhere.

But the most significant act of worship of the day is the Good Friday Liturgy at 2pm. This is the act of worship we should aim to be at above all others as we sit with Christ during the final hour of his life on the cross. The Liturgy begins in silence as the priest lays prostrate before the altar. It is an act of surrender. The priest lies prostrate on behalf of everyone, surrendering to the love that brought God’s Son to the cross. Something extraordinary has been done for us. A unique gift of love has been given to us, and all we can do is surrender to it. The picture created by the prostration of the priest is one that reminds us of Christ surrendering himself to his call and purpose; and also of the only response that we ourselves can make: surrendering ourselves in return to that love; one act of surrender responding to another act of surrender. The moment ends with the singing of the words:
Ours were the grief’s he bore, ours were the pains he carried.
Ours were the sins he took on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

The service also includes the reading of the passion; the solemn prayers on behalf of all God’s creation; and the procession and veneration of the cross. All are invited to venerate the cross by either standing or kneeling before it; and by kissing or touching the feet of Christ for those who wish to. Again this is a moment of surrender to the wonderful gift of love we have been given. The worship concludes by the receiving the bread of Holy Communion which was consecrated on Thursday evening. The liturgy ends as it begins in silence.

Holy Saturday is a beautiful day of anticipation. We have gone through the painful events of Good Friday and we begin to look forward to the joy of Easter. In the morning at 11am we have a workshop and egg rolling for the children at which decorated hard boiled eggs are rolled down a slope to see who can get the furthest – it gets quite competitive! The egg rolling symbolises the stone rolling away from the tomb as we begin to look forward to the resurrection of Christ.

In the evening at 8pm is probably my favourite part of the week as we light the New Easter Fire; process into a darkened church; with the newly lit Easter candle; listen to the beautiful Easter proclamation being sung; hear readings of God’s saving acts and renew our baptismal vows at the font. The service ends with the sharing of the Peace and an eager anticipation of the wonder that is still to come.

The week is completed, of course, with the glorious celebration of the Risen Christ at our Easter Family Eucharist. Easter morning is a full on celebration of joy, wonder and hope. But I hope you will get the full impact of that joy by joining in as much as you can in the other worship of this very significant and Holy week.

May God bless you and your families in the sacred mystery of love that we share together at this Holy time.

Best wishes

Gavin