Holy Week and Easter

A Guide to Worship in Holy Week and Easter

In Holy Week, we journey alongside Jesus from his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper and his arrest, and on to the crucifixion, before finally coming to greet Jesus as he rises victorious over death at Easter. As we enter into this, the great transcendent story of the Christian faith, we are invited to bring with us our own deep pain and sorrow and our greatest hopes and joys.

Palm Sunday

Like the crowds who gathered to proclaim Jesus as King at his entrance into Jerusalem, we too gather with palms to proclaim, “Hosanna to the King”, and to commit ourselves to following Jesus in the way of the cross. These services include a procession with palms, in which we are all invited to participate, and a dramatic reading of the crucifixion narrative.

  • 8:00 a.m. Eucharist (said) with the Procession of Palms.
  • 10:00 a.m. Choral Eucharist with the Procession of Palms (with brass).

The Sacred Triduum

All our worship from Maundy Thursday through to the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday can be considered to be a single service, known as the Sacred Triduum. Although we come and go from church, no blessing or dismissal is given, and the “real-time” remembrance of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection continues throughout the worship of these three days.



We gather on the evening before the crucifixion to remember the Last Supper. In this service, as in every Eucharist, we recall Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist as he took bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying “take, eat, this is my body which is given for you”. John’s Gospel tells us that at this final meal with his friends, Jesus washed their feet, and gave the new commandment: that we should love one another, just as Jesus has loved us. And so, during this service, we have the opportunity to practice love and humility by washing one other’s feet.

The service ends with a dramatic shift as we turn to look ahead to Christ’s arrest and crucifixion. The remaining Eucharist is taken from the church, and we strip the altar and chancel of all hangings and adornments.

  • 7:30 p.m. Choral Eucharist, with foot washing and the stripping of the altar.

The Maundy Thursday Vigil

After the Maundy Thursday service, the remainder of the Eucharist is taken from the Church and placed on the Altar of the Chapel in the Parish House. Here, the flowers which will become our Easter flowers are set out as the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus watched and prayed as he awaited his arrest. Jesus disciples, who were with him, kept falling asleep, leading him to say to them: “Will you not watch with me this one hour?” In response to Jesus’ request, we are each invited to sign-up to spend an hour with Jesus praying in this Garden of Gethsemane.

The Vigil continues through the night until 7:30 a.m. when there will be a short service, at which the remaining consecrated bread and wine from the Maundy Thursday Eucharist is consumed.

  • 9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., Maundy Thursday Vigil.
  • 7:30 a.m., Prayers and Eucharist from the Reserved Sacrament.

During the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross, the Church throughout the world prays, worships, and meditates upon the sacred mystery of Christ’s crucifixion. At St John’s this includes psalms, hymns and anthems, readings, prayers and reflections. Midway through the service, we walk the Stations of the Cross. The service ends with the Veneration of the Cross. There is a further opportunity to pray the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday evening.

  • 12-3 p.m., The Three Hours.
  • 7:30 p.m., Stations of the Cross.

After sunset on Holy Saturday, we gather in the dark church—which now symbolizes the tomb of Christ— to celebrate the Easter Vigil. This remarkable service of life and death, darkness and light, fire and water celebrates the re-creation of the world in Christ’s victory over death.

The service begins with the lighting of the Easter Fire. From this we light the Paschal Candle, the candle that represents the Risen Christ which we will burn for the six Sundays of Easter, and at all baptisms and funerals throughout the year. The Paschal Candle is consecrated with the singing of the Exsultet, the ancient and beautiful Easter proclamation. By candlelight, we hear the history of our salvation before renewing our Baptismal promises and celebrating the first Eucharist of Easter. After the service, we celebrate the arrival of Easter with refreshments at the Lychgate.

  • 8:00 p.m., The Great Vigil of Easter

Easter Day

We continue our celebration on Easter Day with our largest services of the year, more incredible music from our choir, and a festive coffee hour. There is even an Easter egg hunt and a visit from the Easter Bunny after the 10am service!

  • 8 a.m., Festival Eucharist.
  • 10 a.m., Festival Eucharist


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