Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Alban and St. Patrick, Highgate

Holy Week and Easter at St Alban's

28 Mar 2021, midnight
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Easter is approaching fast as I write this letter. First, I’d like to give you the services for Holy Week and Easter. Clearly it will be different this year because of the pandemic and the necessary restriction in place. I hope that this arrangement of services has both enough familiarity to give us comfort and enough difference to give us a fresh view of Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday

Mass will be a simple said service at 6pm. There won’t be the usual feet washing but we will have a short period of music from Taizé to reflect on Jesus’ example. Jeanne Conard-Jones , Jobe Baker and the violinist Edwin Podolski have recoded Erbarme dich Bach’s St Matthew Passion for us to use as we strip the church or ornaments.

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Erbarme dich, mein Gott, Um meiner Zähren willen! Schaue hier, Herz und Auge Weint vor dir bitterlich. Erbarme dich, mein Gott.

Have mercy, my God, <span style="font-size: 1rem;">for the sake of my tears! </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">Look here heart and eyes weep bitterly Have mercy, my God.</span>

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They are words put into Peter’s mouth as he repents his denial of Jesus

The sacrament will be reserved in St Patrick’s chapel but there will not be the usual vigil in church. You may, of course spend time at home watching and waiting. You may wish to join the Baptist church for Tenebrae at 7:30.

Good Friday

There are also some changes to Good Friday.

Stations of the cross will be on Zoom. As we are not in church and so need to have a single service we will split stations of the cross into two parts. Part one at 12 noon will be stations 1-11. We wait till the third hour when Jesus died to complete stations 12-14

Instead of Ante-communion in the morning we will celebrate the liturgy of Christ’s death and burial at 6pm in the evening. At this hour we look back over the events of the day and reflect on the body of Christ in the tomb. This liturgy normally invites us to venerate the cross and an icon of Jesus in the tomb with a kiss and scattering to flower petals, unfortunately we will not be able to do either of those this year.

Easter Sunday

This year we won’t have the Easter vigil on Saturday evening but will incorporate the Liturgy of Light into our 10am Mass.

All of this needs to have new liturgies written, music arranged and videos made and edited. So, I will be taking the advantage of the fact that St Alban’s academy’s is having 2 weeks holiday after Easter and having a rest (stayacation seems to be the new word). Fr Andrew will be Presiding at Mass on the 11<sup>th</sup>. During these 2 weeks there will be no Zoom Evening Prayer.

So much for the practicalities this year. Easter is the main festival of the Christian year, remembering our christian hope. We need hope, it’s been over a year since the first lockdown: Covid-19, though reduced in Britain is still a real threat, and across Europe there is a third wave of infections. Hopefully success of the vaccination program will dull the effects of any third wave in Britain but there is still a long way to go. There was darkness and death before the first Easter and there will be more darkness and death before this pandemic is over. Let us not loose our hope when we have setbacks and remember that the ultimate victory is Jesus’.