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The way of Jesus

April 10, 2014
Egeria, a first century pilgrim to Palestine, described the novel customs (at that time) of Holy Week beginning in Jerusalem, linking the major events of Jesus' ministry with the days of their occurrence and the places where they happened. That is, except for the foot washing and agapé (love) meal of Maundy Thursday, which began later in the fifth century.

Egeria describes Palm Sunday beginning early afternoon at the Mount of Olives, with an early evening reading of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, followed by a walk from the summit to Jerusalem, carrying branches of palm or olive. On Thursday evening, people walked from Gethsemane to the Sanctuary of the Cross.

Good Friday morning, they would hear the entire narrative of the trial before Pilate, and by sunrise, all would go to pray at the column where Jesus was scourged. There, in the open courtyard, lessons about the passion — from Psalms and the prophets, to the Book of Acts and the gospels — would be read from noon until 3 p.m.

Easter vigil worship is the oldest service of the week, and parts of it can be traced to the first century.

A sense of Jesus was made present to worshippers, who encountered Jesus by and through a vivid sense of his passion, death and resurrection.

By the end of the fourth century, symbols of the redeeming Christ would be assembled — light, word, water, bread and wine. A Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship, and An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church.

If you've been looking for an ancient and yet modern walk of faith, I invite you to join with me and other followers of Jesus, as we journey through Holy Week with prayer and song, movement and ritual. Holy Week services can be found at stmichaelsgpw.org.

Rev. Gronek is rector at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 20475 Sunningdale Park, Grosse Pointe Woods.

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