This coming Sunday is the beginning of what many Christians, of many traditions, call “Holy Week” or “Passion Week”. The first day of this week, regardless of whether one thinks of it as Holy Week or Passion Week, is commonly called Palm Sunday” – a day on which Christians often focus on the entry of
Jesus into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11.1-11; Matthew 21.1-11; Luke 19.28-40; John 12.12-15). Those who refer to
this week as “Passion Week” rather than “Holy Week” tend to focus on Jesus’ suffering, culminating in his crucifixion and death on Good Friday. Our observance of Maundy Thursday is intended to focus our attention Jesus’ suffering, as a way of preparing us for the celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. While Christmas season seems to get all the fanfare, it is the passion (i.e. the death of Christ) and the Resurrection that is the heart and soul of Christianity.
At Grace Covenant we will observe Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and, of course, Easter Sunday. As part of our Palm Sunday celebration this year, we have the joy of welcoming new members into our church family: Sharen Auger-Rizy, Alli Nuckols, Nancy Welsh Schulman, and Andrew Rogers. On Thursday of Passion Week we will be holding our annual Maundy Thursday service. This is a solemn, contemplative service, in which we remember the initiation of the Lord’s Supper by partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Maundy Thursday is one of two times each year we take up an offering for our Mercy Ministry, as a way of reflecting the mandate Jesus gave to his disciples to “love one another” as he has loved us. (The word “maundy” comes from Latin, meaning “Mandate”.) Our service will begin a 7:30, and usually lasts about 40-45 minutes. And our Easter service is a special time of celebration and testimony of God’s grace. Every year I hear people say how precious our Easter service is. Additionally, we will have choral offerings for all three services, as our Children’s Choir will sing on Palm Sunday, and our Grace Covenant Choir will sing both Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday. I hope you will be able to join us. And consider inviting an un-churched neighbor or friend.
The Sunday after Easter, April 24, we have called for a Congregational Meeting to be held during the Education Hour (10am – 10:45am) for the purpose of electing new church officers. Those who have participated in extensive study and training, and who are being commended by the Session (i.e. Council of Elders) after having been thoroughly examined, are Elder candidates Aaron Kota and Tim Nargi; and Deacon candidates Daniel Proctor and Justin Stevens. While the idea of meeting to vote on church officers may seem mundane to some, it is an incredibly important part of the life of any church. It is not too much to say that as the leadership goes, so goes the health of a church. And this is the opportunity, as well as the responsibility, of every member of the church to participate in building a strong future for our church. We invite everyone to pray, and we invite all members of Grace Covenant to come and participate in this important endeavor. While the Elders are commending these candidates for your consideration, each member must vote his/her own conscience. The election of church officers is one primary ways that the members of the congregation direct the ministry of a Presbyterian Church. Those whom the congregation elect to the respective offices will be ordained and installed during our Sunday May 1 services.
With Easter also begins a countdown ’til Summer. It does for me anyway, especially when Easter comes later in April. It’s hard to believe, but after Easter we are only a handful of weeks away from Memorial Day – which for many is like the un-official start of Summer. Just as a heads up, after a few years in which COVID was prohibitive, we will be returning to our traditional single service Sundays this Summer, beginning with Sunday May 29. While our sanctuary can get quite packed in a single weekly service, it allows us to minimize our need for as many volunteers as we do during the school year. This is important, as our volunteers deserve a break, and with Summer vacations and travel plans, it can be a challenge on some Sundays in the Summer to maintain the full roster. Additionally, as we had done for the few Summers prior to COVID, we will be suspending Education Hour for the Summer. Instead, we will have weekly times for informal fellowship from 9:30am to 10am in our Commons area, followed by our worship service at 10am each week. While I personal enjoy our services during any season, there is one thing I especially look forward to when we are in a single weekly service: our congregational singing when we are all together is … simply majestic!
This Summer will also have a few temporary adjustments. Both Camper (Associate Pastor) and Starr (Children’s Ministry Director) will be taking sabbaticals. Our Elders will step up to help with some of Camper’s responsibilities. While Starr is away her responsibilities will be divided – and ably covered. Jamie Field will be spearheading VBS this year; and Rachel Bartelmay will serve as Interim Children’s Ministry Coordinator until the middle of August, when Starr resumes her post. Jamie has already begun working on VBS, and we have every confidence that VBS will again be a fantastic week- as it always is. Rachel will coordinate the Children’s Church, Kid’s Quest (i.e. Catechism), and other day to day duties related to children’s ministry (other than VBS). Please pray for Jamie and Rachel, as they assume these roles for the Summer; and for Starr, that this time would be refreshing for her.
As we move toward Summer you receive more info about our regular Summer activities, beginning with our National Day of Prayer Congregational Prayer Dinner the first Thursday in May, and our monthly Congregational Picnics the last Sunday evenings of June, July, and August.
The Lord continues to bless us as a church. And I am personally thankful for you all!
Grace & Peace,
W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor