Meghan Robins, veteran of over a decade of Holy Weeks at Resurrection, takes a humorous, service-by-service look at how to plan ahead for Holy Week. Take time to prepare for the best time outside of time of your life.
1. “Who will ascend God’s holy… Union Street?” You! So wear shorts paired with a wool coat for the procession because the record high in a Chicagoland March is 86 degrees, while the record low is -11. Given this year’s strange winter weather, we’ll experience both within the span of a few hours.
2. Should you arrive late to church (for the first time ever, obviously) and find an empty sanctuary, don’t worry- the rapture has not happened. Everyone is outside singing and waving palm branches.
3. Remember, a broken palm still counts, so don’t worry if you’re that person waving a crooked branch.
4. Are red and purple your favorite colors? Today is your day to shine liturgically. Wear your purple sweater during the procession and then reveal your red jumpsuit after the Passion reading in honor of Resurrection’s local custom of changing liturgical colors midway through the service.
5. Do not get carried away by the celebratory atmosphere and shout the “A-word“. It’s tempting, but remember: Lent is not over yet!
6. It’s not too late to get your Holy Week haircut! You want to look good in your Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday best.
7. Take a nap today. And tomorrow. And the next day. Basically, sleep as much as you can between now and Thursday.
1. Ladies, get a pedicure!
2. Don’t wear fuzzy socks. You may find half your sock in the foot washing tub if you do.
3. Wear sandals or shoes that are easily removed, so you don’t have to be that person holding up the line while you put your lace up knee-high boots back on.
Stations of the Cross
1. Just do it. This service is one of the hidden gems of Holy Week.
2. Did I mention you should come? This beautiful and ancient service allows you to physically walk through the last hours of Jesus’ life.
3. On that note, wear your rain boots. Behold, the winter may (technically) be past, but the rains are not over and gone. This service is held mostly outside and things can get a bit muddy.
4. Don’t worry! Even if you forget and miss the 1pm Stations, there is another one at 2pm and 3pm.
1. Time to break out the waterproof mascara! This service is a powerful emotional experience.
2. Stock up on tissues. They will come in handy… if not for you, then for someone sitting nearby.
3. Save your bright colors and pastels for Easter Sunday! You do not want to be that person in the trendy neon sweater amidst a sea of dark clothing.
4. Don’t forget your checkbook/wad of cash/direct deposit app! The Good Friday Gift is a wonderful chance to give to Resurrection’s partners in ministry in Cambodia.
5. Remember to silence your cell phone. No one wants to hear a Taylor Swift song in the middle of “O The Deep Deep Love of Jesus.”
Easter Festival (aka the service formerly known as Easter Vigil)
1. “….Easter Festigil. Easter Vigival. Easter Festivus?” If you practice every day, you will be able to say “Easter Festival” with an air of studied nonchalance while the rest of us stumble over various iterations of “Vigil” and “Festival” for a few years.
2. Once you’ve conquered the new name, you can take on the role of Liturgical Expert with your friends: “Yes, what used to be called the Easter Vigil service has now been broken into three parts: the Easter Festival, the Great Vigil of Easter, and the Easter Acclamation. Honestly, I’ve always thought this would be the best way to reflect Early Church practice.”
3. Expand your newfound role as Liturgical Expert into the realm of theology by reading our “God’s Saving Deeds” curriculum to learn about the ten Vigil readings that will be presented both at the Easter Festival and hourly through the night during the Great Vigil of Easter.
4. Take this opportunity to get a little bit of exercise and park in the overflow parking lot. You’ll leave space for newcomers and families to park closer to the church.
5. Bring everyone you know to the Festival. They will thank you by the time the service is over.
6. Be ready to be amazed. This service is a unique blend of music, theater, art, and theology that work together to bring the Gospel into a sensory laden immediacy.
7. If you have an incredible experience at the 12pm Festival, there is still time to run grab your neighbors, family, friends, and complete strangers and bring them to the 3pm Festival!
The Great Vigil of Easter
Part one: The Service of Light (7:30-8pm)
1. Q: “Why did the bishop pound on the door of the sanctuary?” A:” Because it’s a profound theological moment that begins the Vigil service!”
2. Be prepared: this half hour service may become one of your favorite Holy Week moments once you hear Steve Williamson repeatedly sing “the Light of Christ” in his beautiful tenor voice.
Part two: The Service of Lessons (8pm-6am)
1. While it may not seem like a good idea to stay up all night listening to sermons and singing worship music, give this service a chance. It can change your mind on what constitutes a good idea.
2. Speaking of good ideas: caffeine and snacks are your friends tonight.
3. If you’re not cut out for staying up all night (aka not a teenager or Bishop Stewart), you can come to just part of the service! Every hour is led by a different preacher and worship leader and will be beautiful as a discrete experience.
Part three: The Easter Acclamation (6am)
1. Bring that bell! Cowbells are especially successful in standing out during the cacophonous Holy Noise. Car keys are a decent alternative if you end up forgetting your cowbell.
2. Wear your dancing shoes! Even if you usually like to keep things decorous, this is one service where it is worth letting loose… even at 6am.
3. Speaking of the Holy Noise, don’t forget deodorant.
1. See “Easter Acclamation.” The party never really stops.
2. Wear your finery! Resurrection folk like to break out hats, dresses, and (if you are Bishop Stewart) seersucker suits on our namesake holiday.
3. Be ready to shout the “A-word” at random times throughout the service. Lent is over!
4. Caffeine is your friend this morning. You’re probably going to be tired from all that contemplation during the Vigil, and while the spirit is willing, the flesh is so weak.
5. Take your allergy medicine. There will be Easter flowers everywhere you turn.
7. Be ready to dispense hugs. Holy Week is a long trek, and your friendly neighborhood bishop/priest/deacon/volunteer is a) exhausted and b) deserving of a hearty “thank you,” especially after facilitating the glory of Easter Vigil twice in one day.
8. Take it easy breaking your fast. It is decidedly not a good idea to break your sweets fast by consuming a whole bag of Starburst jelly beans today (just ask Steve Williamson!)
9. Rejoice! You have made it through a Resurrection Holy Week, and most likely, you’ve experienced God and the church in new and deeper ways. The best part is that you can do it all again next year!