Journey with us through Holy Week and Easter
Maundy Thursday 3/29
Celebration of The Last Supper
12 p.m. | The Chapel
The Passion in chant style from the Gospel of John, followed by communion
7 p.m. | Sanctuary
The St. Cecilia Women’s Choir leads music at the evening communion service
7 p.m. | Story Building
The Last Supper: A Holy Week Experience
Good Friday 3/30
Service of The Tenebrae
Latin for “shadows” or “darkness,” the Tenebrae service features a gradual extinguishing of the light as we remember Christ’s crucifixion.
7 p.m| 2nd floor Johnson Bldg.
NEW Children’s experiential service
6:30 p.m. | Sanctuary
Holy Saturday 3/31
11 a.m.| Chapel
Anticipation of Easter
Artist-in-residence, Rob Landes and soprano, Jennifer Johnson present this musical offering.
Holy Saturday Children’s Service
Designed for small children to engage in the meaning of Easter through hands-on arts and activities.
Easter Sunday 4/1
The Celebration of Resurrection
8, 9, 10:05 and 11:10 a.m.
Encounter Contemporary | Activity Center
9 and 11 a.m.|Sanctuary
Brunch and Egg Hunt between services
7 a.m. Sunrise Service | on the lawn
8:30, 9:40 and 11:05 a.m. | TSH Building
5 and 7 p.m. New Special off-site celebration: St. Arnold’s Brewery
“Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death.” Pope Francis
This 40-day season calls us to deepen our faith as we focus on returning to God, as the prophet Joel says “with all (our) hearts.” We invite you to take a few moments of rest and reflection at the 10 stops of The Lenten Path marked by the purple bell banners around the ellipse, located from the Fellowship Walk around to the Activity Center entrance.
As you read passages of scripture, meditate on the invitation to have God reveal our shortcomings and grow more like him. Grab a coffee and your pen and take a moment to journal what God has for you.
Lenten Music for Meditation and Reflection
Every Thursday throughout the season | 12:05 p.m. in the Chapel
Our annual Lenten recital series begins on Thursday, February 15 and continues through Maundy Thursday on March 29. There is no admission charge, however a free will offering will be received. Check the event calendar or the app for information about artists.
Service of Prayer and Healing
Wednesdays, February 21, 28, March 7, 14, 21, 28, April 4; 7-8 p.m. | Westheimer Chapel
Join us at a service of prayer and healing each week during Lent as we lift our burdens to the Lord and fill afresh with God’s spirit. Rev. Thomas Harper will lead a time of prayer and communion where we ask God for spiritual and physical healing for you or a loved one. Contact Rev. Thomas Harper at email@example.com.
Maundy Thursday Communion
March 29 |12 and 7 p.m. | Chapel
Commemorate the Last Supper in one of two services. Music & Fine Arts staff members present The Passion in chant style from the Gospel of John at 12 p.m. in the Chapel, followed by communion. The St. Cecilia Women’s Choir leads music at the evening communion service at 7 p.m.
Good Friday Tenebrae
March 30, 7 p.m. | Westheimer Sanctuary
Latin for “shadows” or “darkness,” the Tenebrae service features a gradual extinguishing of the light as we remember Christ’s Passion. The Chancel Choir provides music for this service.
March 30 | 7 p.m. | New Children’s Good Friday Worship Service | 2nd floor Johnson Building
Children experience a developmentally appropriate service tailored just for them: K-5th graders will anticipate the coming of Christ’s resurrection through prayer, activities, and song! Childcare will be available for children ages 2 months – preK.
Anticipation of Easter
Saturday, March 31, 11 a.m. | Chapel
Organist Rob Landes and soloist Jennifer Johnson present this annual Holy Weekend musical offering.
Sunday, April 1
Traditional: 8, 9, 10:05, and 11:10 a.m. | Sanctuary
Encounter: 9:15 | Activity Center
Good Friday Service
Friday, March 30, 6:30 p.m.
St. Luke’s Gethsemane campus will have a service commemorating Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Children’s Service | 10 a.m. | Gethsemane Campus
Join St. Luke’s Gethsemane campus on Holy Saturday for a worship service uniquely designed for small children to engage in the meaning of Easter through hands-on arts and activities.
Sunday, April 1, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
We’re celebrating Easter Sunday with two morning worship services, immediately followed by a family picnic and an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids at 12:15 p.m.
The Story Houston
Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper, A Holy Week Experience
Thursday, March 29 | 7 p.m.
Easter Egg Hunt
Saturday, March 31, 10 a.m. – Noon
Bring the family to The Story Houston’s Easer Egg Hunt on Blanton Field.
Easter Sunday, April 1
Sunrise Service on the lawn 7 a.m.
Modern Worship in The Story Houston Building
8:30, 9:40 and 11:05 a.m.
5 and 7 p.m. Easter Celebration at St. Arnolds
Easter Offering 2018
St. Luke’s 2018 Easter Offering will support Plant With Purpose, a Christian development organization that transforms lives in rural areas around the world where poverty and environmental degradation intersect. Alongside Plant With Purpose, St. Luke’s will equip impoverished farming families to change their circumstances, provide for their children, and live with God-given hope and dignity through sustainable agriculture training, land restoration, savings-led microfinance, church mobilization, and local leadership development.
Plant With Purpose works in more than 532 communities worldwide. St. Luke’s offering will support five sustainable development groups in southern Mexico, empowering 125 families to holistically and sustainable grow out of poverty, creating lasting change.
Donations may be made by check payable to SLUMC with Easter Offering in the memo line or by placing a gift in the Easter Offering pew envelopes. Online giving is available at StLukesMethodist.org/easteroffering. For more information, please contact Alice King.
Holy Week Stories
“Hurry up,” he called to his wife. “Hurry up, Sarah.” “I’m coming as fast as I can,” she responded. “Ephraim, are the boys with you?” “Yes,” he answered, “I have both of them.” The four of them rushed out the front door. Ephraim looked left and right. In both directions throngs of
people had gathered on both sides of the road. One could feel the excitement in the air. News had spread quickly about Jesus, the prophet, the rabbi from Nazareth, coming into Jerusalem. This was the Jesus who had healed the sick, the one who had restored sight to blind men, the one who had fed 5,000 one afternoon, the one who had raised Lazarus from the dead. He had taught as no other about the kingdom of God. And He was going to pass right by them, making his way into the holy city.
It was always an exciting time of the year. It was the holiest time of the year because, no matter where they lived, every Jew in the world was preparing to celebrate the Passover feast in a few days, commemorating the event that caused the Pharaoh to capitulate and grant the Hebrew slaves their freedom.
There were thousands of Jews, possibly hundreds of thousands, who were making their way to Jerusalem for the upcoming celebration. They were coming on foot or by boat from all over the Mediterranean to be here. “How grateful our people should be. How grateful to celebrate again our deliverance from Pharaoh, and sparing the lives of all the firstborn,” Ephraim thought to himself. He looked at both of his sons, thinking how much he loved them. “That final plague did the trick.” He raised his eyebrows. “The angel of death killed the firstborn of all the Egyptians, but did a “pass-over” for the Hebrews.” Affectionately he patted Nathan, his firstborn, on the head.
“How many years,” Ephraim asked himself, “have we celebrated this event? Hundreds I guess. And in six days it happens again.” He shielded his eyes and looked up at the great wall of Jerusalem. The top of the Temple glistened in the morning sun. Jerusalem! King David’s magnificent city fortress! Once again the site, the annual gathering place, for an astonishing number of men, women, and children to celebrate Passover.
Ephraim began to hear cries of “Hosanna” in the distance. More and more people were shouting. Some were weeping with joy. All were jubilant. He strained to see the procession coming up the road.
Then he saw him. It was Jesus himself, riding on a donkey. A donkey! Not like the Roman warrior leaders who rode war horses. No, this was a donkey. No wonder the people were
going wild. Just like the great King David! King David rode on a royal donkey. And Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy, the words of Zechariah. Many years before the prophet said, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Lo, your king comes to you triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey.”
Ephraim and his wife saw people taking off their outer garments and laying them on the road, acknowledging Jesus as king. Stunned and excited, he and Sarah watched as the surefooted donkey plod up the hill. Looking up he saw a low hanging palm branch and ripped it off. He began waving it in the air and shouting “Hosanna!” Others broke off palm branches. Still others broke off tree branches and joined the cry. Some waved their palm branches; others lay theirs on the road for Jesus to ride over. “Daddy, I can’t see,” Jacob wailed. Ephraim grasped him and lifted him to his shoulders. “Look,” he told his son. “Look at Jesus. He comes in the name of the Lord. He is the long-promised king. Yell, Jacob, yell ‘Hosanna’ . This is a day I want you to remember the rest of your life!”
By Rev. Bill Denham
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” John 12:13
Her name was Susie. She stood 5’5” tall with wavy blonde hair and clear, glassy blue eyes. She was 39 years old, but she looked much older. Her once-fair skin was reddened and rough like leather. Several of her teeth were missing. She’d been battling life on the streets for years, and the streets were winning.
Susie also battled severe mental illness; my best guess was schizophrenia, but I’m not sure. My wife, Geovanna, and I were the directors of a homeless services non-profit, and we saw Susie almost every day, but we could never convince her to see a doctor. I had a love-hate relationship with Susie. I loved her, but I hated the things her disease made her do.
Most of the time, she was perfectly pleasant, but occasionally she lost control. Her outbursts usually included throwing food, smearing feces on the walls, and threatening to hurt me or another staff person. After every episode, I convinced myself that I was done with Susie, but then I’d look into her eyes again – eyes full of pain and confusion – and I’d allow her back into the lunch line.
One day, when I was near my wits’ end, I asked Susie what more I can do for her. “We give you food every day. We give you free clothes. We let you take showers here. We offer you shelter when the weather’s bad. I’ve cleaned up after you – in the lunch room as well as the ladies room – for two years now. I don’t know what else I can do, Susie? What more can I do?”
Her blue eyes pierced my soul as she said, “Will you eat with me?” That was the one thing I’d never done, and it was the one thing she lacked – someone to sit down and eat with her.
I think of Susie every year as Holy Week comes around, especially on Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word meaning “mandate” or “command,” and it refers to Jesus’ command that his followers love each other the way Jesus first loved us. Every Maundy Thursday (the Thursday between Palm Sunday and Easter), Christians around the world remember the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples: When the hour came…he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” – Luke 22:14-20
The intensity of the moment was palpable. Jesus knew what was coming. His disciples were starting to get it, too. The authorities were coming for Jesus; he would very soon be dead. With Jesus that night were his closest friends, the men with whom he’d shared everything for three years. Also present at the table – unbelievably – was Judas, who sold Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver. He was there because Jesus wanted him there; as much as we’ve demonized Judas, he remained one of Jesus’ best friends. And in the moment of truth, Jesus wanted nothing more than to share a meal with Judas and the others.
Sometimes Christians get so busy serving Jesus – or doing the things we think he wants from us – that we forget the one thing that matters most: sitting with him. Eating with him. Being with him. Loving him and being loved by him. On Maundy Thursday, we remember that nothing is more important than breaking bread together with Jesus. He calls us his friends, and no amount of sin or betrayal can ever be enough to make Jesus change his mind about us.
By Rev. Eric Huffman
…he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
They’d beat him bloody. He was a mess.
They had made a kind of crown made of thorns and smashed it down on his head. The blood trickled down in little rivers from the holes the thorns had made. His beard was filthy, a tangled mat of dirt and blood. Somebody had broken his nose.
The nails stuck out from where they went through his hands and feet into the wood, but you could barely see the nails because of the flies. What would be worse: the nails or the flies? It keeps me up at night.
It’s a shame his mother had to see him that way. She just stood there crying, but not nearly as hard as the other women around her. They were shaking with grief, and moaning and shrieking the way the Jewish women do. But the mother was more like a statue, like seeing her son that way had paralyzed her, save for the tears running down her face. Poor woman. I felt bad for her.
He hung there on the cross for hours, but most people last longer. He died first. The two we crucified with him lasted until the night. I know why they were crucified, but to this day I’m not sure what he did.
The strangest thing happened when he died. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon, still early, but it was dark. Thick, dark grey clouds had covered the sky. My friends who have served in other parts of the Empire tell about something called snow, and when it snows, they say, the entire sky is covered with heavy, dark clouds, the kind you only see just before it snows. They say the clouds look sad and their tears are the snow.
Well, if clouds can be sad, they looked close to crying for this Jesus of Nazareth. I felt as bad for his mother as I did for the sky.
He said something in the language of the Jews and I had to ask one of the women to translate for me. I had to know what he said, because immediately after he said it he died. She was in a panic and I had to shake her to calm her down. “What did he say?,” I said as I shook her shoulders. I just had to know. For some reason, I just had to.
She said, “Oh he said the worst thing. It was horrible!”
“Tell me!”, I said. I was getting angry at her. I don’t know why.
“He said, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
“Tell me, sir,” she said between her sobs, “do you really think God gave up on him? What a terrible thought!”
I turned away. I didn’t know what to think. All I knew was this young man had died in the most miserable of ways and I had been part of it. He was the age of my oldest son, and I had killed him! All I knew was that face, bloody and bruised and looking as innocent as a dove. And I had killed him! All I knew was that he pushed himself up on the nails, he gave a pitiful cry like a baby lamb shot with arrows, and I had killed him!
What had he done? Why was I there? Why did the people love him? And I swear there was something in his eyes as they looked up to heaven. I guess they were searching the clouds for an answer. I swear there was a reflection in his eyes, like he saw someone up there, and that someone was looking back.
I fell to the ground and cried. Then I said a prayer to the gods. Or maybe it was to the Jewish God. All I know is I wanted that person behind the clouds to hear me, whoever it was I saw reflected in that boy’s face. “Truly this man was God’s Son!” I said. I don’t know why I said it, but nothing else in my life has ever made more sense.
By Rev. David Horton
Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” Mark 15:39
There are protocols for death—what must be done when someone dies. Protocols of grief. The pastor is called. Friends come to the home. Hugs are exchanged. Tears are shared together. Trays of sandwiches are delivered by neighbors, obituaries written and edited. The rituals help us to make it through the day when our hearts and minds are overwhelmed with loss.
This was the mindset of the three women on their way to the tomb that morning. They loved Jesus deeply, with all their hearts. The only way to cope with grief that profound was to go and do what must be done, to make i an act of worship as much as their broken hearts would allow. He must be anointed with oil and wrapped in proper fashion. Nicodemus, who barely knew Jesus, had done it so hurriedly days before, as the Sabbath day of preparation for the Passover was imminent. It was generous of him, but not his place to do so. He didn’t love him like they did.
Mary of Magdala, a woman with whom Jesus shared much of his heart. Mary the mother of James and Joses—the mother of James the lesser, “James, son of Alpheaus.” Joanna, sometimes called Salome, the mother of James and John, the woman who asked that her sons be able to sit at Jesus’ right hand in the kingdom. These three women had been allowed into the fellowship of the followers of Jesus. Now, the other disciples were afraid and hiding. These three left just before dawn to do what must be done.
The large wheel of rock that rolled on a track in front of the tomb was perhaps five feet high and a foot thick. It would be an impossible task to roll it out of the way. Sometimes, you can’t wait to have it all figured out. You just have to go and hope that God will provide a way.
The black in the eastern sky was turning almost imperceptibly to ink blue. If they had looked up from the light of their lamps, they would have seen Venus, a pinpoint of light against the blue black field. But looking only down at their steps, they saw little beyond the light of their lamps or their grief. As the darkness gave way to shadowy forms, and they approached the rock face, they were stunned to find the stone had already been rolled away, and the tomb stood open.
They hurried into the tomb, their lamps splashing light on the walls. The tombs of the wealthy had rock-hewn niches in the walls, where wrapped and anointed bodies had lain, their bones now gathered into ossuaries, bone boxes on the stone floor. But there was no body there, not of Jesus or anyone else. They felt desperately with hands as if to find a sign of him somehow hidden sight. But his body was stolen. His death alone was overwhelming… how could their anguish have become even worse?
Suddenly they were aware of a brightness behind them in the dark of the tomb. They turned and saw two figures—men, it seemed—and their bodies seemed to shimmer. They had heard the rabbis talk of angels, perhaps this was just such a being. They fell to their knees in fear, covering their heads and cowering before these creatures.
The men spoke, and their words would remain with the women forever.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he is risen!”
Immediately they remembered the prediction the Lord had shared with them three times on that road from Galilee to Jerusalem. They had refused to believe that there would even be a cross, much less a resurrection. But he had said it himself, “on the third day rise from the dead…”
Three women willing to go in the darkness to face the death of their Lord, to do what must be done, were the first to learn the truth of resurrection:
Death doesn’t win. Life does. Don’t be afraid to face the graveyard. Go and do what must be done. But don’t go expecting to find death; instead, go expecting life! Jesus is the Lord of life, and will bring it out of every graveyard you face. Don’t be afraid to step out into the darkness. Jesus is the light of the world, and will push back whatever darkness that seeks to overwhelm you.
He is not here. He is risen!
By Dr. Tom Pace
He is not here. He is risen! Luke 24:5