From the Rector
Guide to Holy Week 2021
Now that Palm Sunday has passed, we have begun our turn of the spiral for this Holy Week. Below is a description of each of the Three Great Days and what we will be doing to celebrate Easter Sunday. Even if but for a few minutes, find a way to mark each day, with others or on your own. Here are some of the primary ways we will be practicing together this week.
The services for Maundy Thursday remembering the Last Supper will begin with a Zoom Agape feast at 6:45p and the Maundy Thursday service will start at 7:30p, livestreamed and on Zoom. As many did last year, we ask that you set up a space at home, with foot washing basin, Bible, all the components for you to engage as fully as you can for that night. Then, after we celebrate the Eucharist, we will strip the spaces in the sanctuary and process the consecrated elements of bread and wine to the healing altar at the back of the church. As a parish we will hold vigil overnight, with 2 people in the space, and the rest of us praying online. You can find the sign up for the in-person part of the overnight vigil here, and the online vigil on our Holy Week events page.
On Good Friday, as we collectively stand at the foot of the Cross, the church will be open for private devotions and to pray the Stations of the Cross from 8a-10a and 3p-5p. Our 12n-3p service will be both livestreamed, on Zoom. We will also be setting up prayer stations in the courtyard and the audio will be played in our courtyard for those who would like to worship in person. The hope is that for those who want to pray and listen in person we will have the space to do this together, and to do this online as we did last year. At 4p we will gather our families for the Holy Week for families service, and at 7:30p we will livestream and Zoom our Good Friday liturgy. All of those links can be found on our Holy Week events page.
Saturday will bring our first ever Easter Vigil entirely celebrated in the courtyard (masked and distanced), with Baptisms and Eucharist, starting at 7:30p. (Sign up here) To celebrate the Paschal Mystery, this year the new fire will light all of the stories of salvation, and this service will be livestreamed and on Zoom so that everyone can participate in one of our most intense and complex liturgies of the year. If you will be worshipping in person, please remember to bring a mask and a chalice, as we will not be sharing the common cup. Also, dress warmly, as it may be a bit brisk as the night deepens.
The next morning, Easter Sunday, we will continue our celebration of the Resurrection in several ways. At 9a we will be in-person in the courtyard with Eucharist, you can sign up for that service here. This will be another occasion for you to bring your mask and chalice. At this service there will be singing and Eucharist. And, during that Eucharist we will be consecrating communion kits for those at home to participate in the Eucharist at the 11:15a service. You can sign up for those kits here. The 11:15a will be livestreamed and via Zoom, with the links on our Streaming Services page.
May the Spirit be our guide as we together walk these Three Great Days.
Holy Week Home Altars
A Home Altar
One of the things I have relished in the Episcopal Church and Anglicanism in general is its appreciation of the power of symbolic objects to help us make a sacred connection with God and creation. Creating a “home altar” may be one of those meaningful ways that gives external form to our desire to be connected to God in our times of prayer and meditation. In turn, it can help us pray and be a platform for our prayer. In my household a home altar began simply with a small oil lamp that was on a small round glass tabletop. One of us (myself, Ruth, or our son while he was growing up) would light the lamp as we began our devotional prayer time and extinguished it at the end of our worship. Since I meet with clients in a room in my home (except during this time of COVID) dedicated to prayer, study, and sacred conversation I light the lamp on the altar when in meeting.
Over the years the objects we brought to the home altar increased and varied by the liturgical seasons or special days. Several objects are regularly there: the lamp in the center of the table altar, and a small cast of a lion and lamb, and a wood carving of a monk are face the flame of the lamp. The lamb & lion statuette brings, among other personal meanings, my spiritual guidance work of Lamb & Lion Spiritual Guidance Ministries to the altar. My youngest brother gave me the monk many years ago. As an oblate of St. Gregory’s Abbey, an Episcopal community of Benedictine monks I recognize the little monk in me. The monk appears a bit dull and scratching his head as he gazes at the holy fire from the lamp. There’s a lot in this holy mystery of God that causes me to puzzle over! But some people see the little monk holding a cell phone and talking to God instead of scratching his head.
Other things are brought to the altar: rocks from special places, things from the sea, feathers, animal figurines, sometimes an icon of a saint or an angel, or a cross. An Advent wreath replaces the oil lamp in that season. During this Lenten season and Holy Week there are fragments of worn wood and sun-bleached bone arranged on the altar. In Easter season the altar will have a different appearance: a small icon depicting the resurrected Jesus and the “harrowing of hell” will be prominent, and beautiful objects will replace the fragments of worn wood and bone.
It is not hard to make a home altar. It doesn’t have to be on a table surface. You may find that some other place is best for you. Think about what would be meaningful for you to place on the altar. The altar and contents can be quite simple or very decorative depending on your inclination. Perhaps there are some things that have a permanent place there and other things are more representative for you of a special day, or a season, or a circumstance you are facing. If it aids you in drawing closer to God and expressing your desired relationship, it is doing its work.
– Daniel Prechtel
Maundy Thursday Prayer Vigil
Immediately following our Maundy Thursday live streamed service we will begin the Prayer Vigil, marking one of the events that happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. In pairs, watching for one hour shifts through Good Friday morning, we will remain in quiet contemplation, prayer or observation. This year, since the restrictions for indoor worship are less, people may come to the main sanctuary (not the chapel, so people can effectively distance) for their shift. People also have the option of praying from home. Please sign up for a one hour slot using this sign up sheet. Ideally, there will be two people each hour, whether at home or in the church.
Personal Prayer on Good Friday
Good Friday in our Holy Sanctuary
It is hard to believe that we have not set foot in the sanctuary of All Souls for over a year! We have held on to hope and now the day is coming when we may enter once again into this holy space on the corner of Cedar and Spruce. On Good Friday, April 2nd, the sanctuary will be open for you to be in the felt presence of God. Between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m, the sanctuary will be open for you to come walk the stations of the cross, sit and pray and soak in the powerful majesty of the sanctuary. There will be ushers and signs to guide you to the entrance and exit, one or two at a time, in order to prevent people crossing paths during Covid. We ask that you bring a mask and if you are experiencing any Covid symptoms, to please skip entering in person on this day.
On one of the holiest days of the church year, we will become reacquainted with our faithful friend, All Souls. The walls of the sanctuary have held hundreds of people’s tears, joys, prayers and the singing of God’s love. As you spend time in the sanctuary, take in the aroma of the candles, look out at our hurting world through the stunning stained glass windows, let your body settle in to the grooves of the pew which have held so many people before you. Plant your feet on the ground, even perhaps removing your shoes to feel the cool cement grounding you on this holy floor. Listen to the footsteps of our beloved community walking the perimeter of the sanctuary, taking in the powerful Stations of the Cross. You are home. You are held. You are sanctified and safe in the All Souls sanctuary once again. Thanks be to God!
Stations of the Cross
You are invited on a pilgrimage this Holy Week. This isn’t a pilgrimage that will require you to travel long distances, and it won’t cost an excessive amount of money. This is a pilgrimage that will take place in our courtyard at Cedar and Spruce, and it will be a journey of stories and pictures. This pilgrimage I’m talking about is the Stations of the Cross, available to you on this Good Friday of Holy Week.
What is this ancient practice? The Stations of the Cross, also called the Way of the Cross, is a way of reflecting, meditating, and reliving Christ’s last day on Earth. There are 14 images in total which depict events like Christ’s condemnation by Pilate, his struggles carrying the Cross, and then his eventual death and burial. Each station can evoke forgotten or unexplored emotions in the story of Christ. Each station invites us to comprehend better the depth of what happened in Jerusalem on that terrible day thousands of years ago.
The practice of walking the Stations of the Cross is ancient. The exercise originally surfaced in Jerusalem in the early church era, and Christians walked along the road that Christ once walked on his path to Golgotha: the Via Dolorosa. The practice of stopping and praying at specific spots along the tragic journey spread out of the Holy Land and has continued to find new meaning and practice even now in the 21st century.
So, come. Join us as we begin anew this Holy Week pilgrimage. Enter into this weekend by reflecting again on the depth of Christ’s sacrifice and passion by meditating on the images and actions of his final hours. I can’t promise you that this pilgrimage will be fun or easy, but I am confident that you will leave this Good Friday pilgrimage different from the person who began it. By taking a few moments to stop and reflect on the Way of the Cross, I imagine you will enter into the triduum more aware and empathetic to Christ’s journey to the Cross, and more aware of your place in this cosmic narrative.
The Paschal Candle
All Souls has made an amazing tradition of making our very own pascal candle each year. It is quite a time consuming and delicate project, but done with a great deal of love and creativity. Started many years ago by our beloved Jocelyn Bergen, the wax used during the year for smaller candles is chopped up, melted, and carefully poured into a specifically crafted mold.
After it cools, and is taken out of the mold, a specific design is painted on the candle.
The Pascal Candle represents the risen Christ, and as a direct symbol of the resurrection it is lit at the Easter Vigil and again with great celebration on Easter morning, and then again throughout the year for festive occasions which reference the resurrection.
The candle is required to always show a cross, the symbols for alpha and omega, and the numbers of the current year. Then we can use our own themes for the year to further embellish it. This year we have talked a great deal about the wilderness, since it has been a most difficult year for all of us, and with the hope of a new dawn and an exodus coming out of the wilderness. The painting depicts a desert scene with lilies, palm branches and the sun rising over the mountains of the desert.
We are hoping the church will be open for people to come in, masked and socially distanced, and just a few at a time for a few hours on Good Friday. It might be a good time to see the candle, and be back in our sacred space.
Holy Week and Easter for Families with Children
Holy Week Service for Families
The Holy Week service for families will take place in the Courtyard at 4:00pm on Good Friday. We will tell the story of Holy week beginning with Palm Sunday using the Godly Play method. We’ll have music from our own very talented Nat Lewis, and we’ll have a chance to pray together for our world.
Outdoor Children’s Formation
Like every Sunday, we will have outdoor formation for Children in the Courtyard on Easter Sunday at 10:10am. All are welcome to join, whether you attended the 9:00am courtyard service or not.
Dispersed Easter Egg Hunt: Sunday 1-3pm
In a year like no other, of course we must have an Easter Egg Hunt like no other. Join us for our first (and hopefully only!) Dispersed Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday between 1:00-3:00pm! All Soulsians around the East Bay have graciously offered to host this year’s Easter Egg Hunt in their own yards, so we can more safely provide a fun egg-hunting experience for our Little All Soulsians.
How it works: Between the hours of 1:00-3:00pm on Easter Sunday, families are invited to visit one or more of the homes of fellow All Soulsians (addresses listed here,) who have hidden eggs in their yards. Look around the yard, hunt for eggs, and take home what you find! Please bring your own bag or basket to collect eggs, and wear a mask.
Be sure to take pictures and say hello to the gracious hosts!
Holy Week Worship
Here is the worship schedule for Holy Week 2021
You can register for in-person Holy Week Services using this link. In order to allow for the most amount of people to participate in an in-person Easter service, we ask that you only sign up for either the Saturday Vigil OR the 9:00am Sunday morning worship. As always, you are welcome to check the registration link on the evening prior to the service and take any open spots that remain.
- 8-10am and 3-5pm the sanctuary is open for personal prayer
- 12-3p Contemplative Service in-person in courtyard (broadcast from the indoor service) + live streamed
- 4:00pm Holy Week worship for families in the courtyard
- 7:30p live stream & Zoom
Holy Saturday: 7:30pm Easter Vigil in-person in the courtyard, live streamed & Zoom
- 9:00am in-person in the courtyard
- 11:15 live stream & Zoom