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Worship in April 

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So, on Sunday, the 5th Sunday in Lent, a week before Holy Week, Atonement will say goodbye to our much beloved Rector, the Very Rev. John David van Dooren. I've had the pleasure of working with Fr. van Dooren for the past 11+ years. He's been with me through the good and the bad, both personally and in my role as the liturgical coordinator for the parish. I've probably served as acolyte for him at over 500 Saturday healing masses during this time. More often than not, I've been MC at our 11:00 o'clock high mass. He's probably the most supportive priest I've ever known of a lay Religious brother, and has given guidance lots more than demand in the time we've worked together. It's sad to say farewell to a fine priest and friend, but happy that he will be serving the people of the Church of the Transfiguration in New York City the same as he's served the people of Atonement at the corner of Kenmore and Ardmore these past nearly 12 years. For Holy Week, and most likely up to the time our wardens decide on an interim priest, we'll be in good liturgical hands with Fr. Jim Dunkerley. Fr. Dunkerley has served as an assisting priest at Atonement for several  years, and has just returned to us after faithfully assisting at Church of the Ascension on LaSalle Street.  And now on to Holy Week and Easter at Atonement. 

As far back as the fourth century (and probably much earlier) on Palm Sunday the bishop, accompanied by the faithful carrying palm branches and singing antiphons and hymns, went from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem. Mass was sung before the procession started, and it was at this Mass that the palms were blessed. A second Mass (of the Passion) was sung when the procession had reached Jerusalem.

Palm branches will be held aloft by the faithful, and the celebrant will bless them. During the Liturgy of the Palms, one of the assisting priests will proclaim the Gospel of Matthew. After we process around the block, and the parishioners return to their pews, the altar party will wait outside the west doors. Through the closed doors the ancient hymn Gloria, laus et honor (or more commonly its modern version, "All glory, laud and honour to thee, Redeemer, King") is sung, the choir and congregation from within singing the verses and refrain. The celebrant, with the foot of the processional cross which was carried in procession, strikes the doors, which are flung open. Christ enters Jerusalem.The choir will later sing Matthew’s Passion Gospel. Fr. Jim Dunkerley, who recently returned to assist at Atonement after assisting at Ascension for several months, will celebrate. Mthr. Jackie Cameron will be here to preach from the UK.

The Thursday in Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday. It is part of the Triduum, or three holy days before Easter. It comes from the Latin mandatum novum, "new commandment," from Jn 13:34. The ceremony of washing feet was also referred to as "the Maundy." Maundy Thursday celebrations also commemorate the institution of the eucharist by Jesus "on the night he was betrayed." The Prayer Book liturgy for Maundy Thursday provides for celebration of the eucharist and a ceremony of the washing of feet which follows the gospel and homily. There is also provision for the consecration of the bread and wine for administering Holy Communion from the reserved sacrament on Good Friday. Following this, the altar is stripped and all decorative furnishings are removed from the church. Luis Garcia, who coordinates the 9:00 am Mass, will preach.

Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Day, on which the church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of fasting and special acts of discipline and self-denial. In the early church candidates for baptism, joined by others, fasted for a day or two before the Paschal feast. In the west the first of those days eventually acquired the character of historical reenactment of the passion and death of Christ. The liturgy of the day includes John's account of the Passion gospel, a solemn form of intercession known as the solemn collects (dating from ancient Rome), and optional devotions before the cross (commonly known as the veneration of the cross). The eucharist is not celebrated in the Episcopal Church on Good Friday, but Holy Communion may be administered from the reserved sacrament at the Good Friday service. Br. Ron Fox, BSG will preach.

The Easter Vigil liturgy is intended as the first (and arguably, the primary) celebration of Easter in the BCP (pp. 284-95). It is also known as the Great Vigil. The service begins in darkness, and consists of four parts: The Service of Light (kindling of new fire, lighting the Paschal candle, the chanting of the Exsultet); The Service of Lessons (readings from the Hebrew Scriptures interspersed with psalms, canticles, and prayers); Christian Initiation (Holy Baptism) or the Renewal of Baptismal Vows; and the Eucharist. Through this liturgy, the BCP recovers an ancient practice of keeping the Easter feast. Fr. Dunkerley will be our celebrant and Mthr. Joy Rogers our preacher. Fr. Robert Cristobal from St. George and Matthias Episcopal Church will chant the Exsultet and Litany of the Saints, and proclaim the Gospel.

Easter is a festival season of fifty days whose first day is Easter Day, the Sunday of the Resurrection, and whose last day is the Day of Pentecost. Easter Day is the principal feast of the church year. The word “Easter” comes from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess whose name is associated with springtime, growth, and fertility. In most languages the name of the day is Pascha, which means “Passover.” The resurrection means that Christ has overcome death and in his victory has opened to us everlasting life. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). The Lord’s new life in which we share is the message of this season.

As the sacrament of new life, baptism is an Easter theme; as baptized Christians we take time during Easter to ponder the meaning of membership in Christ’s body, the church. We look at events in the church’s life, the sacraments, the accounts of resurrection and the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to discover their meaning and what they tell us about how we as a community are to live the life of the Risen Lord.

Like the two who walked the Emmaus road with Jesus, we can know Christ in the sharing of the word and in the breaking of bread at the Eucharist.

The Great Fifty Days of Easter are the time when those who have reaffirmed their baptismal vows or have been baptized at the Easter Vigil reflect on the meaning of their baptism. Through the lectionary texts they explore the “mysteries” of their faith. The early church called this period of the process mystagogia. Today the whole church enters into this period of uncovering anew the mysteries of faith expressed in sacrament, word, and life lived for others. Each time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist using Eucharistic Prayer A, we say these words:

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. (BCP 363)

Fr Dunkerley, our much beloved assisting priest, will celebrate and preach on Easter Day. We will have choir and orchestra to accompany the occasion.