The Rev. Roger Allen, the rector of St. James on Church Street in Marietta, was finishing a large batch of sermons Thursday morning to be delivered this weekend.
“There is a fantastic energy to the place,” Allen said. “This is the most special and glorious time.”
During Holy Week, Allen said there are 20 services at St. James.
“It is their walk to the cross, the tomb and the resurrection,” Allen said.
Each year, the sermons take on a new angle, Allen said, but the message of peace, love and salvation is always the same.
“It is about the wonderful things God has done for us,” Allen said. “Especially for those of us who don’t feel we are worthy.”
Last night, St. James Episcopal Church’s Maundy Thursday service was about remembering Jesus’ commands, one being to take the Holy Eucharist, or communion, (or Passover depending on one’s interpretation), in remembrance of his sacrificing his body and blood for the sins of mankind.
The second remembrance is in following an action Jesus performed in service to His disciples, as an example of how they should treat others.
“After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him,” as stated in John 13:5.
Out of the church’s 1,200 members, Allen said a typical Maundy Thursday service has about 100 people come forward to participate.
“To sit in the chair and have your feet washed is a very emotional moment,” Allen said.
Because the Maundy Thursday service culminated in the betrayal of Jesus by Judas that led to the crucifixion, all ornaments, candles and alter coverings were removed and the cross was cloaked in a black veil.
“Everything is down to the bare, bare wood,” Allen said. The congregation departed in silence, “in recognition of the darkness of that night.”
Today’s Good Friday service will focus on the “scandal of the cross,” Allen said.
Although there are things people would prefer not to talk about in life, like death, Allen said these horrible events must be faced, not ignored or denied.
“There is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday,” Allen said.
A musical journey with Jesus
For 10 years Roswell Street Baptist Church has hosted a rich tradition of painting a musical picture of the events of the Holy Week into one massive program.
“Sixty percent of all the gospels are about the final week, culminating in the cross,” said Joe Buckner, who has been Roswell Street Baptist Church’s Minister of Music since 2005.
The hour and half program begins with a musical celebration, showing the varying points of view of biblical characters interacting with Jesus.
“No other service in the year is like this,” Buckner said about the yearly crowd that typically ranges from 850 people to more than 1,000.
A 40-piece orchestra, 100-member adult choir and 50 children and students combine with projected video footage to offer the dynamic program.
“It is quite powerful,” Buckner said.
Buckner begins to craft the program in November, with rehearsals starting the second week of January.
“My goal is to tell the same story in a fresh and new creative way,” Buckner said.
The big moment comes at the end of the service, when “we go from 100 decibels to silence.”
Buckner said the people depart, not after a big crescendo, but in still quietness, with an anticipation, “because we know Easter is coming.”
Holy Week Services
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Easter Sunrise Service at 7 a.m. Sunday with sermon by Rev. Dwight “Ike” Reighard, pastor of Piedmont Baptist Church and CEO of MUST Ministries.
WHERE: 900 Kennesaw Mountain Dr., Kennesaw
Kirkwood Presbyterian Church will host traditional Easter services April 20 at 10:30 a.m. Worshippers are asked to bring flowers to decorate the cross on the church’s front lawn on Easter Sunday.
WHERE: 618 Acworth-Due West Road, west Cobb
East Cobb United Methodist Church choir will host “Return To Me,” April 18 at 7 p.m. The Good Friday worship experience includes Charae Krueger, artist-in-residence in cello at Kennesaw State University. Eight of the “stations of the cross” form the basis of this musical work.
WHERE: 2325 Roswell Road, Marietta
INFO: (770) 971-3643
Faith United Methodist Church will host a Good Friday Tenebrae Choir Concert with nursery provided April 18 at 7 p.m.
WHERE: 4336 King Springs Road, Smyrna
INFO: (770) 435-9722
Powers Ferry United Methodist Church will have an Easter Sunrise Service at 7:30 a.m. and an Easter Worship with handbells at 11 a.m. Sunday.
WHERE: 245 Powers Ferry Road, Marietta
INFO: (770) 973-5271