St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 27 Plains Road, Windham Center, CT.

Vicar - The Rev. John Burton
Sunday Holy Eucharist Service - 9.30am.

Church School for children grades 1 thru 8.

Father John
How does one take in essential spiritual truths?  While much preference is given to words — spoken and especially written – in our modern learning practice, people in earlier times recognized that combining words with actions was a better way to convey spiritual truth.  Thus we have inherited liturgy and sacrament in addition to the ancient scriptures.  By involving our bodies as well as our minds in the sacred stories, we can take their insights more deeply into ourselves.

While our typical gatherings in the Episcopal Church involve liturgical actions — standing, sitting, kneeling, eating, washing, anointing, etc. — the fullest opportunities to enter bodily into God’s story come during Holy Week.  The services of Holy Week invite us to use our whole bodies, not just our eyes and ears, to take into ourselves the events of the final week of Jesus’ life.

The Palm Sunday Liturgy, April 13: 9:30 am

The Church is the community of people called to follow Jesus together.  What better way to experience this than to walk together in procession?  Our liturgy this day will begin in the Garden with the distribution of palms and a reading of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ parade-like entry into Jerusalem with his followers.  Then we will become his followers as we process into the Church where our service will include a dramatic reading of the Passion Story of Jesus’ final days.

Maundy Thursday Palestinian Dinner, April 17, 6:30 pm

The lessons assigned to be read on this night tell us how Jesus and his followers gathered to eat a ritual Passover meal, and how Jesus reinterpreted that meal — the last one that he would eat — into what we know as the sacrament of Holy Communion.  So that we might receive this story more deeply, we will hear it in the context of a meal, eating foods typical of those consumed on that occasion, and celebrating Eucharist around the dinner table.  Following this, we will adjourn into the sanctuary where we will enact another ancient custom.  The Church will be stripped of all its usual furnishings, allowing us who witness this to enter bodily into the disciples’ feelings of grief at the loss of their leader.  (There is a sign up sheet for those who wish to contribute or assist in the Parish hall.)

Night Watch:  Thursday into Friday Morning

The Gospels tell us that just prior to Jesus’ arrest, he prayed with his closest disciples.  Though He urged them to stay awake with him and join in his prayer at this most crucial moment, they were overcome by sleep.  Would we be more dependable than they were?  On this night the Church will remain open all night for individual prayer allowing us to find out.  The Night Watch will conclude with Morning Prayer on Friday at 7:00 am.

Good Friday (April 18) marks the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.  It is a day set aside to enter into the experience of the disciples’ grief and sorrow.  We will mark this day with:

Good Friday Family Event 3:00pm

This will be an opportunity to experience the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection told using the materials of Godly Play.  It is designed to be especially suitable for children.

Good Friday Liturgy 7:00pm

Gathered in the emptied Church we will consider the events of the day through  Ignatian Contemplation, a technique that invites us to use all our senses to enter into the scene. (This will be familiar to you if you attended the Ash Wednesday service.)  There will be other ways to enter into the story of Jesus’ last hours as well.

Easter Vigil:  Saturday, April 19, 7:30pm

It seems like basic human nature that at the time of someone’s death we gather for comfort and encouragement.  In vigil we wait, and we encourage each other by telling stories of God’s faithfulness in the past.  On this night we gather to light a new fire, to hear a few of us tell of God’s great deeds in their own words, to pray and sing and renew our faith.  This service is a feast of sight and sound and story, quietly presented, as we wait together for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.  If you can only attend one service this week, let it be this one!

Easter Sunday, April 20, 9:30 am

For Christians, every Sunday is a small celebration of Jesus’ Easter Resurrection, a smaller version of this celebration.  The sight and smell of Easter flowers take us to the garden where the women and the disciples encountered the risen Lord.  Signs of new life abound.  We sing Jesus Christ is Risen Today and we rejoice that the signs of death we experienced this week were not God’s last word.

I invite you to enter fully into all of the events of this holiest of weeks, and I pray that through your prayerful participation, you will experience new life with your celebration of Easter this year.

St. Paul's Messenger
April 2014

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Take Note!
At St. Paul’s
Sunday, May 4, 3:00pm

Mark your calendars so you won’t miss this performance by North East Connecticut’s great
Acappella singing group in a benefit for Habitat for Humanity.

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