Holy Week is the final week of the season of Lent that commemorates the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry in his first coming. By the fourth century, it had become the high point of the entire annual liturgical calendar of Christian festivals and seasons with the greatest concentration of special services during the entire year. Such services recounted the spiritual meaning and implications of such events as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm/Passion Sunday), his establishing the Lord’s Supper at a Passover meal with his disciples (Maundy Thursday), his death on the cross (Good Friday), and his resurrection from the dead (Easter Vigil on Saturday night, and Easter Sunday, which initiate the season of Easter).
2014 Holy Week services at Central Presbyterian Church
Worship folders for all Holy Week and Easter Sunday services
For more resources on the history of Holy Week as well as devotional materials for worship, see the Holy Week page under the Liturgical Calendar tab at the top of the page.
The new song for Lent at the 11:15 worship service is an arrangement of a portion of Psalm 130. The sermons during Lent this year will focus on the need for spiritual renewal with a special emphasis on the role of humble, repentant prayer in our personal spiritual growth as well as the growth of the church. Psalm 130 is a classic prayer of confession and petition that will enable us to express to the Lord our repentance as well as our longing and confident plea for his gracious healing work in setting us from “from all our sin and sorrow.”
Psalm 130 [From Depths of Woe] (Audio)
Text: Martin Luther 1523; trans. Richard Massie 1854, alt. 1961
Music: Eric Priest 2006
1. From depths of woe I raise to thee the voice of lamentation!
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me and hear my supplication.
If thou iniquities dost mark, our secret sins and misdeeds dark,
O, who shall stand before thee?
2. To wash away the crimson stain, grace – grace alone – availeth!
Our works, alas, are all in vain, in much the best life faileth.
No man can glory in thy sight; all must alike confess thy might,
and live alone by mercy.
3. Though great our sins and sore our woes, his grace much more aboundeth!
His helping love no limit knows; our upmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd good and true is he, who will at last his Israel free
from all their sin and sorrow.
Traditionally, the Lenten season is the entire forty-day period during which the church prepares for the celebration of Easter. When it first emerged in church history, Lent served primarily as a time of intense instruction, fasting, and prayer for converts to the Christian faith in the days leading up to their baptism. The practice of observing forty-days probably arose in Alexandria, Egypt in the third century as an imitation of fasts by Moses and Elijah as well as Jesus’ forty days of fasting in the wilderness following his baptism, which was celebrated on Epiphany (January 6) by Christians in the eastern Roman empire. Following the council of Nicea (325 A.D.), the forty days of Lent were shifted to the period leading up to Easter, which became the annual day for administering baptisms in many churches. This pre-Easter observance of Lent quickly became the universal Christian practice. Eventually Lent became a discipline observed by the whole church and not simply new converts.
Lent is a season of reflection and self-examination, of self-denial and repentance, of reconciliation and spiritual growth as we meditate on the life of Jesus and his call for us to follow him as his disciples. During Lent, almost all churches that follow the annual church calendar hear readings and sermons from the gospels, which tell us of Christ’s humiliation and suffering as he sacrificed himself to serve a fallen and broken world even to the point of death on a cross. In those gospel readings, we also hear Jesus’ summons to take up our own cross and follow the path of suffering service for the sake of God’s kingdom that he first followed on our behalf as the Suffering Servant-King.
Here is a short but penetrating article on the reasons why confessing our sins together as a church body in corporate worship and receiving the Lord’s forgiveness is a healing mercy and precious gift from God.
Three Views: Why Confess Sins in Worship When It Seems So Rote?
by Kathleen Norris, John Witvliet (director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship), and Enuma Okoro
The seasons of the church calendar are designed to help us remember and live faithfully according to the story of Jesus’ life and his work for our salvation in fulfillment of God’s mission for the people of Israel and his plan for the whole world. In other words, the church calendar helps us order our worship and life together as a church around the whole story of the good news (gospel) of Jesus.
The new song for worship in November in the 11:15 service at Central Presbyterian Church is “Lord, I Need You.” The refrain in this song is a modern adaptation of the refrain from the classic hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour.” As pastors Eric Stiller and Daryl Madi continue preaching through the book of Philippians this month, this song will help us respond to the word of God with a prayer that we will find Jesus to be our true defense and righteousness (Philippians 3:8-10) and our sure hope and strength who supplies our every need (Philippians 4:11-19).
The new song for worship in November in the 8:30 and 9:45 services at Central Presbyterian Church is “At the Name of Jesus.” As pastors Eric Stiller and Daryl Madi continue preaching through the book of Philippians this month, this hymn will help that word dwell in us richly, for the hymn text is a setting of Paul’s summary of the gospel story that lies at the heart of the letter (Philippians 2:5-11). The tune (KING’S WESTON) is a strong melody by the famous 20th-century English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. This tune embodies the sweeping and regal majesty of this story of Jesus exalted from the depths of the grave to the throne of God and rule over all things. May the Lord through this song encourage us to enthrone him in our hearts and subdue all that is not holy in us so that we may confess and experience him as the King of glory.