The 40 days of Lent are coming to a close. Lent is a season of introspection, a time of denial or of taking on something different, either a way of preparing Christians for the renewal that comes with Easter. Christians worldwide draw together to remember and embrace that time called Holy Week, sometimes referred to as the Passion of Christ.
It began on what is now called Palm Sunday, April 13, this year, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, acclaimed by the crowd, which laid down their cloaks and branches on the road for him to ride on. We symbolize that today with the waving of palm branches in the church service, palms which are then burned and the ashes saved for next year’s opening of Lent.
The joy did not last. Reality sat in. Jesus had a meal with his disciples, now memorialized with Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, all terms meaning the same, a service in taking of consecrated bread and wine (or grape juice) standing for the blood and flesh of Jesus.
Then came the betrayal, the arrest, the trial and the crucifixion. These are the dark days observed from Thursday through Saturday. Some churches observe all the events, some only some of them.
Thursday, the beginning of darkness, is usually observed as Tenebrae, a word which means darkness. The solemn service ends with the extinguishing of candles and leaving in silence. Not all churches observe this aspect. Some have a Seder meal, some do not.
Seder, the Jewish meal observing the Passover and their deliverance from Egyptian slavery, in the Christian observance is Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. That original meal led to Holy Communion. The Seder Christians observe is a reminder of what took place in Egypt and how the events of that night anticipated events that would occur in the crucifixion and Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Good Friday is another solemn day, the day in which Jesus was crucified. The dark days continue on Saturday, which some churches observe with a Vigil, a silent time of waiting and introspection.
Then comes Sunday, Easter Sunday, the joyful day of Resurrection. For many, it begins with a special, usually outdoor, service at sunrise, often with a dramatic observance of the empty tomb. And usually followed with breakfast. After that, the worship services follow the custom of the individual churches.
One interesting service at some churches is called the releasing of the Alleulias where during Lent this sound was eliminated for those weeks, just as flowers are back in the sanctuaries and the purple of mourning is removed. Many have Flowering of the Cross, when members bring fresh flowers to pin on a cross for that service. It is a musical time.
Another happy event, for children anyway, is an Easter Egg Hunt. What used to be simply hiding a few colored eggs on the church lawn, has grown into a big deal for many churches. Eggs are a high premium on that day when some churches put out literally thousands of eggs – or a candy substitute for the real thing, and the day involves games and other recreational activities not normally associated with religion.
Why Easter Eggs? Why fresh flowers? Why all these other events? All are symbols, symbols of resurrection and renewal, that reflect a religious faith that, while sometimes different, is a way of relating to the events of that first Holy Week. Activities at a wide range of Chattanooga churches follows.
Christ Episcopal Church, Chattanooga, Douglas at McCallie
April 13, Palm Sunday, Holy Eucharist, Rite II begins at 10:30 a.m. with the Liturgy of the Palms, Procession into the Nave and the Passion Narrative.
April 17: Maundy Thursday, Holy Eucharist, Rite II begins at 6 p.m. with foot washing; procession of reserved sacrament to the Altar of Repose, and stripping of the High Altar. An Agape Meal follows in Fox Hall. Watch at the Altar of Repose, from approximately 9 p.m. Maundy Thursday to almost noon Good Friday.
April 18: Good Friday, 11 a.m., Stations of the Cross in the Nave. Noon, Good Friday Liturgy with Veneration of the Cross and Communion from the Reserved Sacrament.
April 19: Holy Saturday: The Great Vigil of Easter and First Holy Communion of Easter begins at 8 p.m..
April 20: Sunday of the Resurrection: Easter Day: Festive Holy Eucharist, Rite II begins at 10:30 a.m.; Egg Hunt for the children follows the Eucharist. Please bring your own basket.
Brainerd Baptist Church, 300 Brookfield Ave.
On Easter weekend, we’re launching a new worship service on Saturday nights. The service will take place at the BX and reflect the worship style of Sunday mornings at the BX. Kid’s Church will be offered during the worship time in the main building for children Kindergarten through 5th grade. We will have three services on Sunday, April 20 at 8:15 a.m., 9:45 a.m., and 11:15 a.m. in both our BX and Sanctuary venues. Life Groups will not meet Easter weekend
Church of the Highlands, 6620 Hunter Road, Harrison
April 13, 4 to 6 p.m., spend two hours knocking on doors in our community inviting people to Easter weekend, then church family will eat dinner together.
April 19, 4 to 6 p.m., family fun with inflatables, carnival games, minute to win it games and tons of candy. At 5:15, helicopter Easter Egg Drop, dropping thousands of Easter eggs from a helicopter. Pe-register for the egg drop with the church office.
April 19-20, attend either Saturday night or Sunday morning worship service. Saturday, 6 p.m., (contemporary); Sunday, 9:15 (blended) and 10:45 (contemporary).
Signal Mountain Bible Church, 4872 Shackleford Ridge Road
April 17, 7 p.m., Maundy Thursday service. Childcare provided for children 4 and under.
Brainerd United Methodist Church, 4315 Brainerd Road
April 19, Easter Egg Hunt, 10:30 a.m., beginning with an Easter story and then the hunt.
April 20, 7 a.m., sunrise service in the cemetery; 7:30 breakfast in the Atrium; 8:45, Oasis dramatic presentation; 10:45, traditional service in sanctuary.
Pilgrim Congregational Church, 400 Glenwood Drive
April 17, Maundy Thursday, 6 to 8 p.m., Seder Service with Holy Communion and the Office of Tenebrae No charge, but make reservation with church office.
April 18, Good Friday, noon to 3 p.m., sanctuary open for prayer.
April 20, Easter dawn service, 8 a.m. in Brainrd Mission Cemetery off Brainerd Road; 9:30, continental breakfast in parlor for members and visitors; 11 a.m. Easter Festival Service; Easter Egg Hunt following worship service
Signal Mountain Baptist Church, 939 Ridgeway Ave.
April 20, 6:45 a.m., Easter Sunrise Service at home of Bea Brown, 3503 East Brow Road.
First Baptist Church, 401 Gateway Ave.
April 17, Holy Week Service, "Bread of the World, in Mercy Broken," 6 p.m., sanctuary.
April 19, The Hunt for Easter, 10 a.m. to noon,, Fellowship Hall, preschool and elementary age children will interact in special ways that will teach them what Christ experienced before he rose from the dead on Easter morning. Bring your basket for the Easter Egg Hunt. There will be goodies and fun for everyone.
April 20, 11 a.m., everyone invited to bring fresh cut flowers for the flowering cross.
Hixson United Methodist Church, 5391 Old Hixson Pike
April 17, 7 p.m., Christian Life Center, Maundy Thursday service of quiet reflection and Holy Communion led by acoustic instruments and Bells Angels Handbells.
April 18, 7:30 p.m., sanctuary, choir and orchestra in dramatic presentation.
April 19, noon, chapel, Holy Saturday service of meditation and hymns. 2-4 p.m., Hixson ballfield, Eggstravangza with over 10,000 eggs, 4 egg hunts, inflatables and crafts.
April 20, Easter Sunday services in sanctuary at 8:30 and 11 led by the chancel choir and Bells Angels handbells; River service at 11 in Christian Life Center.
Christ United Methodist Church, 8645 East Brainerd Road
April 13, 9:30 and 11, sanctuary, Palm Sunday service with music by the sanctuary choir and orchestra and a message from Pastor Mark Flynn; 9:30, Gospel and 11 a.m. Rock services, in the Commons.
April 17, 7 p.m., sanctuary, a Service of Tenebrae, with readings and music.
April 20, 7 a.m. sunrise service and communion, beginning on the lawn outside the sanctuary with a full worship service and Holy Communion in the sanctuary; 9:30 and 11 a.m ., sanctuary worship, identical blended services with strings, brass, praise band, praise team, soloists and multiple choirs and a message by Pastor Mark Flynn; 9:30 and 11, Commons worship services with music and message by Pastor Flynn. Nursery provided for all services.
Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church, 612 James Blvd.
April 13, Palm Sunday services at 8:15 and 10:40, with Processional of Palms at the 10:40 service; 5 p.m. and through Wednesday, 5 to 6:30 p.m. in sanctuary, Come-and-Go Service of Holy Communion.
April 17, 6:30 p.m. Maundy Thursday service in sanctuary, with children’s program for ages four through second graders in handbell room.
April 18, 6 a.m., Prayer Vigil begins in Marr Chapel; noon, Good Friday worship in Marr Chapel.
April 20, 7 a.m., sunrise service on the Brow, 318 North Palisades Drive; 8:15 and 10:40, Easter Sunday worship led by Dr. William Dudley.
First-Centenary United Methodist Church, 410 McCallie Ave.
April 13, During Palm Sunday services in the 10:45 sanctuary and Vine services, children will process with palm branches.
April 17, Maundy Thurday communion and Tenebrae service in the sanctuary at 6 p.m.
April 20, Sanctuary services at 8:30 and 10:45, services in the Vine at 9:30 and 10:45.
St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1716 Anderson Pike, Signal Mountain
April 17, 7 p.m., Mass of the Lord’s Supper, followed by Eucharistic Adoration.
April 18, 6 p.m, Veneration of the Cross.
April 19, 8:30 p.m., Easter Vigil Mass.
April 20, Masses at 8:15 and 10:30 a.m.; Easter egg hunt to follow the 10:30 Mass.
Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 214 East Eighth St.
April 13, Palm Sunday services at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 and 11:30 a.m. Sunday, the 11:30 service procession beginning in parking lot across the street; 1:30 p.m. in Spanish.
April 16, Seder meal at 5:30 in Varallo Hall
April 17, 5:30 p.m., Holy Thursday Mass.
April 18, Good Friday watch and pray from noon to 5:30 p.m., with Liturgy at 5:30.
April 19, 9 a.m., Matins (Liturgy of the Hours); 8:45 p.m. Easter Vigil.
April 20, Easter Sunday Mass at 9 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in Spanish.
Tyner United Methodist Church, 6805 Standifer Gap Road
April 13, 9:45 a.m., "Crucifixion of Christ from a Medical Perspective," led by Rachel Hodges in Wesley Hall.
April 15, 6:30 p.m., Wesley Hall, viewing of "The Passion of the Christ"; drinks and light snacks provided.
April 16, 5:30 p.m., pizza dinner, 6:30 p.m., Wesley hall, "Looking for the Messiah in all the Rite Places," led by Dr. Chris Dover.
April 17, 6:30 p.m., Wesley Hall, Seder meal, by reservation with church office.
April 18, 7 p.m., sanctuary, Tenebrae service.
April 19, 11 a.m., Wesley Hall, Easter egg hunt and breakfast; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Easter prayer watch in sanctuary.
April 20, 7 a.m., sunrise service, followed by breakfast; Easter services at 11 in sanctuary and in Wesley Hall.
Burks United Methodist, 6433 Hixson Pike
April 14, 9 a.m., morning vespers in chapel.
April 16, noon, afternoon vespers.
April 18, 6 p.m., Good Friday service in sanctuary; Holy Communion delivered to homebound throughout the day.
April 19, 2-4 p.m., Easter Egg hunt in gym.
April 20, sunrise service at Camp Dixie; 9 a.m. traditional service; 10, breakfast in courtyard and hallways; 11 a.m. contemporary service.
First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1505 North Moore Road
April 13, 10:15 a.m., Easter Egg Hunt; 11 a.m., choir cantata, "Seven Last Words of Christ," immediately followed by covered dish luncheon.
April 17, 5:45, potluck dinner; Maundy Thursday service, the Service of Three Crosses.
April 20, 7:30 a.m., Easter sunrise service; 11 a.m. worship service.
Dallas Bay Baptist Church, 8405 Daisy Dallas Road
April 19, 4 to 8 p.m., spring fair with rides for all ages, fun, prizes, food trucks and a strength exhibition with team impact.
April 20, services on main campus at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 a.m. and at the Northgate campus at 11.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 805 West 7th St.
April 13, 8 a.m., Blessing of the Palms and the Passion Sunday Eucharist; 10:15, gather outside on the front lawn on Pine Street for the Blessing and Procession of the Palms to the Passion Sunday Eucharist.
Monday throught Thursday, 12:05 p.m., Holy Eucharist.
April 17, 6 p.m., Institution of the Holy Eucharist and Stripping of the Altar.
April 18, 11 a.m., Stations of the Cross, with incense; noon, Liturgy for Good Friday.
April 19, 9:30 a.m., gather to deeorate the Nave; pause at 11 for Liturgy of Holy Saturday; 7:30 p.m., the Great Vigil with Holy Baptism, choirs, instruments and organ with incense. Resurrection reception follows.
April 20, 9 a.m., Festival Eucharist with choirs, brass, tympani and organ, Flowering of the Cross; 11:15, Festival Eucharist with choirs, brass, tympani and organ and with incense; Flowering of the Cross.
St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church, 7555 Ooltewah-Georgetown Road, Ooltewah
April 13, Palm Sunday services at 8 and 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
April 16, 6 p.m. Stations of the Cross.
April 17, 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday with foot washing and Holy Eucharist and an Agape meal to follow.
April 18, 11:30 a.m., Stations of the Cross; noon, Good Friday liturgy; 6:30 p.m. Stations of the Cross; 7 p.m. Good Friday liturgy.
April 19, noon, Holy Saturday service.
April 20, 6:30 a.m., Great Easter Vigil wth potluck breakfast to follow; 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist with Easter Egg Hunt to follow; no other activities Sunday.
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 822 Berlvoir Ave.
April 13, Palm Sunday services at 9 and 11:15 a.m.
April 17, 7 p.m., Maundy Thursday service with communion.
April 18, 7 p.m., Good Friday Service of Darkness.
April 19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Holy Saturday Prayer Vigil.
April 20, 7 a.m., sunrise service; 9:30 a.m., traditional service; 11:15 a.m., contemporary service, with youth sponsored breakfast between sunrise and traditional service.
First Lutheran Church, 2800 McCallie Ave.
April 17, 7 p.m., Maundy Thursday service, "Facing Denial," Vicar Maske; Seder meal.
April 18, 7 p.m., Good Friday service, "Facing Death," Rev. Mark McCrory.
April 20, 9:45 a.m., Easter Egg Hunt, free breakfast; 11 a.m., "Facing the Future."
Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 211 Franklin Road, Lookout Mountain
April 13, 6 p.m., the Adult Choir will present the Tenebrae "Service of Darkness" by English composer Richard Shepard, accompanied by a quartet of low brass instruments and organ with vocal soloists Ken Anderson, Delores Beery, Dawn Weber and Cecelia Wigal. The service will include Holy Eucharist.
April 14, 15 and 16, 6 p.m., Holy Eucharist, Rite II.
April 17, 6 p.m., Maundy Thursday service in the Nave.
April 18, Good Friday service, noon in the Nave; 6 p.m., Stations and Holy Eucharist.
April 19, 8:30 p.m., Holy Saturday, the Great Vigil of Easter.
April 20, 7:30 a.m., Holy Eucharist, Rite I, Rev. Mac Brown preahing; 9 a.m., Holy Eucharist, Rite II, Flowering of the Cross, Releasing of the Alleluias, music led by the Adult Choir, Youth Chorale and Brass, Rev. Robert Childers preaching; 11 a.m., Holy Eucharist and Baptism, Rite II, music led by the Adult Choir, Youth Chorale and Brass, Rev. Robert Childers preaching.
St. John United Methodist Church, 3921 Murray Hills Drive
April 13, Palm Sunday services at 9 and 11 a.m., with the chancel choir at 9 a.m. performing "I Know My Redeemer Lives," arranged by Russell Mauldin.
April 17, Maundy Thursday, 7 p.m., a play performance of the reenactment of the Last Supper.
April 18, Good Friday, 7 p.m., Tenebrae service of darkness.
St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church, 7547 East Brainerd Road
April 13, 10 a.m.;, Triumphant Procession for Children, with real live animals; Holy Eucharist, Rite II, with dramatic Passion Gospel reading.
April 17, Maundy Thursday, 6 p.m., liturgy, dinner and movie, Amish Grace.
April 18, Good Friday, 10 a.m., liturgy with Stations of the Cross.
April 20, sunrise Vigil and Holy Eucharist, Rite I, breakfast between services; 10 a.m. Choral Festive Holy Eucharist, Rite II, children’s Easter egg hunt.
Signal Crest United Methodist Church, 1005 Ridgeway Ave., Signal Mountain
April 13, 5:30 p.m., potluck dinner in Crest Center; 6:30, "Praise Him" service in sanctuary with music by the chancel choir, worship band, instrumentalists and soloists.
April 17, 7 p.m., sanctuary, Maundy Thursday communion service led by Rev. Mark Gooden.
April 18, noon, Good Friday service in Crest Center, led by Rev. Barry Kidwell.
April 20, 7 a.m.;, sunrise service at 308 Laurel, led by Rev. Beth Sullivan; 8:30 a.m. in sanctuary, Rev. Sullivan; 9 a.m., Crest Center, Rev. Gooden; 11 a.m., sanctuary, Rev. Gooden. Bring flowers to decorate crosses at 8:30, 9 and 11 services.