Kapahulu Avenue is a busy street. Countless cars and pedestrians pass by the church every day, and it is rare that our neighborhood is not frenetic. Amid this busyness, the life of the church continues with the celebration of liturgies, feast days, daily offices, and other ministries. While we were celebrating the Annunciation with a sung mass and trivia night, much of the world around us would not know about the season of Lent, let alone the Annunciation. Yet, even though such observances do not register with the wider public, they are wildly popular in the parish. Many are discovering the Daily Offices with a renewed interest this Lent, and the Annunciation night was a great success. It proves that the world needs more of what we have to offer at St. Mark’s. The mind-numbing freneticism on the street can be healed by what the church and the faith continue to behold.
We are at the middle of Lent, as Palm Sunday is only two weeks away. Many of the liturgies are ready for execution, and we continue to add the final touches on many of the services. On Palm Sunday, in addition to the morning masses, the choir will sing for Evensong, Stations, and Benediction at 5:00 pm. On the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week, sung masses will be offered at 12:00 noon, and in lieu of Evening Prayer on these days, we will offer Evensong and Mass. On Maundy Thursday the Solemn Mass with Footwashing and Stripping of the Altar will be at 6:00 pm, and on Good Friday we will gather for the traditional liturgy at 12:00 noon. A sign-up sheet is in the church for the All-Night Watch at the Altar of Repose, beginning on Maundy Thursday and ending on Good Friday morning. Many have already signed up for this vigil of prayer with our Lord in the Sacrament, and there is no limit to the number of people who can sign up for each hour. At 11:00 pm on Maundy Thursday we will have a guided Holy Hour Meditation. Confessions before Easter may be heard after the Good Friday liturgy, as at this point the liturgies of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, with their respective Gospels, will have convicted us. Easter is ushered in by the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday, April 20 at 7:00 pm, and a reception will follow the service in the Parish Hall. On Easter Day the regular rota of services will be offered, including Evensong and Benediction at 5:00 pm.
I had a fascinating conversation with a parishioner the other day, and I have their permission to share this story. This person was lamenting that they have not been very good about attending Holy Week services in the past. This person always wants to go, but then the cares of the world stop them from having a fulfilling Holy Week. One year they missed Easter altogether because their non-church-going friends planned a champagne Easter brunch which conflicted with mass attendance! My question to this person was, “why don’t you let God win this year?” I went on to say, “it’s obvious that God has sent grace to you by the fact that you are uncomfortable about your past practice. God is poking you to do better. Why not let God win this year, and why not show up for the Holy Week liturgies. Let God finish in you what God is trying to begin.”
This conversation made me think about another point which is important. During Holy Week we often receive many visitors at our worship services. Not only do we need strong acolytes, musicians, ushers, lectors, greeters, and clergy during Holy Week, but we also need everyone in the congregation to show their dedication to God as an example. Showing up and worshipping God IS mission. Come and show why God is important to you on this most important week of the Christian year.
We still have two more Sundays in Lent to go before Palm Sunday. I am reminded that our faith provides us endless second chances. If you are lamenting that Lent has slipped by you this year, it does not have to be a big deal. Show up this Sunday and get back on track, so that when Holy Week comes, you are ready to receive more of God’s grace. Let go of the nonsense of the world, and let the grace of God and the faith of the church be your blessing.
With every good wish,
Father Paul Lillie