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A PRELUDE TO HOLY WEEK

14 April 2019 4pm

This service takes its inspiration from the Bridegroom services of the Orthodox Church which take place over three days from Palm Sunday Evening to Wednesday of Holy Week. During these services the faithful are reminded of the Second Coming of Christ.

Two of the readings at these services include the parable of The Barren Fig Tree and the story of The Ten Bridesmaids. These scripture readings prompt us to look towards the coming of Christ and seriously attend to our own preparation to receive him into our hearts and bear fruit in our lives.

The Liturgy focuses on personal preparation through prayer and penitence as we wait to meet Christ the Bridegroom who walks to Cavalry to be united with his bride, the Church. The theme is vigilance, we are watching and waiting and we are encouraged to prepare our hearts and our souls to participate in the great wedding banquet that is to come.

At the end of this service we walk with Christ towards the cross as the Litany is sung in procession. We process around the cathedral in silence, with our candles lit, reflecting on all that we need to put aside in order to be ready to meet Christ the Bridegroom and greet the coming of his Kingdom.

Behold the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom he shall find watching. And again, unworthy is the servant whom he shall find heedless. Beware therefore O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the kingdom. But rouse yourself crying: holy, holy, holy are you our God.

An icon of Christ the Bridegroom

An icon of Christ the Bridegroom

In the Orthodox Liturgy, the icon is carried in a procession and after the Gospel the following response is sung: 'I see Thy Bridal Chamber adorned, O Saviour, and I have no wedding garment that I may enter therein'. The icon depicts Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church, bearing the marks of his suffering, yet preparing the way for a marriage feast in his Kingdom. It portrays Christ during his Passion, particularly during the period when he was mocked and tortured by the soldiers who crowned him with thorns, dressed him in purple and placed a reed in his hands, jeering him as the 'King of the Jews.' . The crown of thorns is a symbol of his marriage to the Church and his suffering. The rope around his hands is a symbol of bondage to sin, death and corruption which was loosed with Christ's death on the Cross. And the reed is a symbol of his humility. The imagery connotes the final union of the Lover and the beloved. The title Bridegroom also suggest the Parousia, the end times when Christ will draw all things to himself.