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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Holy Week Journey

In the fourth century a pilgrim to Jerusalem named Egeria participated in the various remembrances and liturgies of our Lord's Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. Amazingly, the practices and services that Egeria describe in the letter she sent home to her friends directly inform the practices and services of Holy Week that we celebrate in the early 21st century at Saint Mark's. Egeria's letter is a historical treasure of the period of late antiquity, the earliest written evidence detailing the various observances of Holy Week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.

The faith that motivated Egeria's pilgrimage, though, is something more valuable even than her letter. The faith to walk in the footsteps of Jesus in that final disastrous and glorious week is the true gift we share with our fourth century sister. That gift comes to us not simply across the centuries in a dusty parchment, but in a living tradition inspired by a living God.

Our Holy Week liturgies present us with an opportunity to join Egeria and every pilgrim who has waved palm branches, has gone with the disciples to the upper room, has had their feet washed, has shared in Jesus' last meal, has watched the night in the garden, has walked the way of the cross, and has hurried to the tomb to see if the words of the women are true. As the season of Lent draws to a close, I invite every member of the parish to make the Holy Week pilgrimage that begins with glory, takes us to the abyss of crushing defeat, and ends with the precious gift of new life and hope in Jesus.

Click here to see the schedule of Holy Week services.

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