Holy Week marks climax of the Gospel story

Christians celebrate Easter beginning with Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, and ending with the "Great Vigil of Easter", which is the culmination of the sacred celebration of Holy Week and the beginning of the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection.

Recently the Rev. Katie Newcomm, rector at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Coral Gables, shared the story of the "Great Vigil of Easter" with me. I would like to share it with you:

"The Great Vigil of Easter is the climax of the Christian Year, and unfolds in scripture, psalm, sacrament and liturgy the story of redemption. It begins in darkness and proceeds to a joyous burst of light. It begins in silence and proceeds tot he glorious proclamation of the Paschal Alleluai.

“It is the Christian Passover, for it celebrates the passing from death to life, from sin to grace. The story of the Exodus is central to the Liturgy of the Word; Baptism is the means of the full realization of redemption; Holy Communion is the promise of the glory that shall be ours with our risen Lord. The liturgy moves with austere solemnity from one part to the next, as we watch and wait for the Lord’s Resurrection. It is not to be rushed through, for time is suspended as we recount the story of creation, celebrate the glory of the New Creation in the waters of baptism, and profess our faith in the perfection of all creation in the fullness of time, in the glory of God."

Newcomm said of all the celebrations of the church year, The Great Vigil of Easter is pre-eminent.

"It alone vividly and dramatically portrays all that was, that is, and that ever shall be in the drama of our redemption. This event, this day, is what our faith is all about," she said.

Newcomm invites the community to attend Easter services starting at 10 a.m. Saturday with Flowering of the Cross, Easter Egg Hunt and Craft in the main sanctuary. The Great Vigil of Easter with baptisms will be in the main sanctuary at 7 p.m. Saturday. A traditional Easter Sunday service will be at 8 a.m. followed at 9 a.m. by a contemporary service and a traditional service at 10:30 a.m. The church is at 5690 N. Kendall Dr. in Coral Gables.

Maundy Thursday in South Dade

The four United Methodist churches of Homestead, Florida City and Redland will celebrate Maundy Thursday in a combined service at 6:30 p.m. today at First UMC of Homestead, 622 N. Krome Ave.

On Good Friday, the Sixth Annual "Walk the Cross," will begin at 11:30 a.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 145 NE 10th St. The processional will proceed to First UMC of Homestead, where a short outdoor service will follow. Those who are unable to walk the five blocks are invited to proceed to the church and wait for the walkers. The "Walk" commemorates Jesus’ last steps as He went to the cross. Prior to the walk, the Kiwanis Club of Homestead will sponsor a Good Friday community prayer breakfast at 7 a.m. at Harris Field.

On Easter Sunday, a combined Sunrise Service will be at 7 a.m.,. on the lawn of Silver Palm UMC, with the Redland Community UMC, followed by a complimentary pancake breakfast to be served by the United Methodist Men of silver Palm. The breakfast will be followed at 10:30 with an Easter worship service.

At 9 a.m. a worship service will be at Redland Community UMC, 18700 SW 248th St. At 9:30 a.m. a worship service will be at First UMC of Homestead, and at 11 a.m., a bilingual worship will be at Branches UMC, 145 SW Fifth Ave. in Florida City. Everyone is welcome to every service and every activity. For more information call Bob Jensen at 305-248-0976.

Easter Music at Palm Springs UMC

At 6 p.m. today Palm Springs United Methodist Church at 5700 W. 12th Ave. in Hialeah will present the Combined Choirs of Miami Lakes UMC and Palm Springs UMC in a presentation of "The Shadow of the Cross," a contemporary tenebrae service arranged and composed by Lloyd Larson. Stan Hoch will conduct. The choirs will be accompanied by flute, oboe, French horn, cello and piano. Selections will include such favorites as Twila Paris’ Lamb of God and How Beautiful, You Are My All in All, as well as traditional hymns such as Near the Cross, Beneath the Cross of Jesus, and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. It’s free.

At 7 p.m. a seder dinner with a dramatic presentation will be in the church’s fellowship hall. The cost of the seder dinner is $3 per person. Call the church office at 305-821-8855 to make dinner reservations and for more information.

Ukranian Catholic

Easter services for the Assumption BVM Ukrainian Catholic Church at 39 NW 57th Ct., will begin at 7 p.m. today with the Reading of 12 Passion Gospels in Ukrainian and English. At 3 p.m. on Good Friday, the Exposition and Veneration of Shroud and Sacrament of Reconciliation will be in Ukrainian and English.

The Easter Vigil will begin at 3 p.m. with Vespers with Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, also in Ukrainian and English. The Veneration of the Shroud, and the Blessing of Easter food will be at 5 p.m.

At 8 a.m. on Easter Sunday the church will celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord in Ukrainian and English, with Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in Ukrainian and the Blessing of Easter food.

For more information contact Oksana Piaseckyj at 305-798-0190.

St. John Lutheran

Holy Week services at St. John Lutheran Church at 10390 NE Second Ave. in Miami Shores will begin at 7 p.m. March 28 with Maundy Thursday services.

A Good Friday tenebrae service will be at 7 p.m. and Easter Sunrise service will be at 7 a.m. on the church’s patio. A high Easter service will follow at 10 a.m. Everyone is invited.

Wayside Baptist

You are invited to Easter celebration services at Wayside Baptist Church, 7701 SW 98th St.

English services will be at 9 and 11:55 a.m., and Spanish services will be at 10:30 a.m.

Call 305-595-6550 for more information.

Coral Gables Congregational

The historic Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ will have four Easter services and invites the community to come and enjoy the joy of Easter through music, inspiring preaching and a welcoming community.

The celebration will begin at 7 a.m. with Easter sunrise service to be in the church’s courtyard located on the church’s east side and nestled in a beautiful tropical garden filled with the sounds of fountains, birds and singing.

At 9 and 11 a.m., the Easter Festival of Worship will be held in the church’s sanctuary. A Children’s Easter service will ve at 1 p.m. in the main sanctuary. The service is designed to guide children into the meaning of Easter through a relaxed and wiggle-welcome environment. Following the service, the children and their families and friends are invited to decorate Easter cupcakes.

The church is at 3010 De Soto Blvd. in Coral Gables.

Call 305-448-7421 for more information.

Christ Fellowship

Christ Fellowship has committed to raising at least $70,000 on Easter weekend to help feed 350 hungry children in Miami-Dade County on the weekends for an entire school year.

According to a press release from the church, recent statistics show that 70 percent of Miami-Dade students receive free public school lunches. Teachers at a school in South Dade that the church recently partnered with said, "99 per cent of our students were part of this program, and they often find students crying in the hallway because they are hungry or tired."

Pastor Rick Blackwood, senior pastor of Christ Fellowship said, "We put a large emphasis on serving the hurting and under-resourced in our community. ... This year we wanted to make a difference in the lives of the youngest in our community."

The church recently launched a pilot program to provide backpacks full of food for students to take home on Fridays. The goal is to provide food for students who need it during the weekend, when many simply don’t eat. The church will be inviting guests to join them to give for this cause at 30 Easter services across Miami-Dade. The church will also be meeting at some non-traditional locations such as a local bar, prisons and at a local university. For more information on how you can become a backpack program partner, call the church’s Mission department at 305-238-1818.

Church of God Tabernacle

Bishop Walter H. Richardson invites the community to the annual Good Friday worship service to be at 8 p.m. at The Church of God Tabernacle, 1351 NW 67th St. in Liberty City.

You are also invited to the Annual Easter Pageant to be at 10 a.m. on Easter Sunday. The children of the church’s Bible Class Department will enact the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a moving and spiritual service with music and inspirational speeches, all presented by the children of the church.

It’s free.

Our Lade of the Lakes Catholic

Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic church, 15801 NW 67th Ave. in Miami Lakes, invites the community to join them in their annual Holy Week and Easter Sunday services. The Holy Thursday services, which will include a bilingual Mass of the Last Supper, will be at 8 p.m. March 28. On Good Friday, the traditional Stations of the Cross will be at 10 a.m. in English and 11 a.m. in Spanish. Devotional services will be at Noon in Spanish and at 2:30 p.m. in English. A bilingual liturgy of the Lord's Passion will be at 6 p.m.

Holy Saturday bilingual services will begin at 8 p.m. and Easter Sunday English Masses will be at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and at 5:30 p.m. Spanish Masses will be at 8 a.m. and 12:45 and 7 p.m.

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary — St. Richard Catholic Church will have its 12th annual Easter Sunrise Mass at 6:30 a.m. at the Deering Estate at 16701 SW 72nd Ave in Palmetto Bay. The Mass will be celebrated by the Revs. Adelson Moreira and Alberto Rodriguez and Deacon Robert O'Malley, and will be in English and Spanish.

Breakfast will be served following the Mass. An Easter egg hunt with the Easter Bunny will follow at 9 a.m. Tickets for the breakfast are available at Holy rosary—St. Richard Church at 7500 SW 152nd St. in Palmetto Bay.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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