Holy Week News

posted Mar 26, 2021, 8:27 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you during this season of Lent.

I have some exciting news to share with you regarding Holy Week and Easter!

Last evening the Ad Hoc Church Reopening Committee met to discuss the possibility of reopening the sanctuary for in-person worship on Easter Sunday. It was a long, yet fruitful discussion, going over the latest updates from Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Board of Health, while taking into consideration the many people in our congregation who have been vaccinated. To that end, the committee made the following recommendation to the Consistory which was unanimously approved:

To open the church for Easter Sunday with a Sunrise Service in the Meditation Garden at 7 AM. To open the church at 10:30 AM for in person worship with limited capacity of 30, excluding staff of 3 and musicians of 2, and then to continue to stay open subsequent Sundays for in person, Zoom, and livestream worship, with one exception — that while Pastor Trish is on vacation from April 12-18, to encourage the congregation to worship online with other suggested congregations. 

Remaining open would be subject to change based on local COVID-19 conditions, CDC recommendations, and the Governor’s executive orders. Reservations for Easter Sunday (and following Sundays) would be requested for 7 AM and 10:30 AM so Pastor Trish may prepare the Lord’s Supper accordingly and so we don’t go over capacity indoors. Congregants would need to be masked, practice social distancing of 6 feet, and not touch one another

So, yes, beloved ones! Our church building will be open for Easter Sunday! I know it has been a long, challenging year, and continues to be so, but how fitting that on the day of resurrection — of new life — we can once again gather safely in person to worship our risen Savior. Please let me know if you wish to attend Easter Sunday 7 AM or 10:30 AM by Friday, April 2. Be assured that no one should feel any pressure to come back to in person worship. We will continue to offer Zoom and live stream for those who prefer to stay at home. Everyone is encouraged to make the wisest choice for themselves, their family members, and fellow congregants, living out the Greatest Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. 

But before we get to resurrection Sunday, see the worship schedule below for what we pray is a meaningful Holy Week.

Holy Week

April 1: Maundy Thursday worship at 6 PM via Zoom. Special music from Sarah Hanvey, with the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

April 2: Good Friday worship at 6 PM via Zoom. Special music from our trio — Juliet Gallagher, Diane Grady, and Izaak Thorpe

April 4: Easter Sunday Sunrise Service at 7 AM in the Meditation Garden. Special music from Mike Steib. Please bring a sturdy lawn chair, wear a mask, sanitize your hands, and practice social distancing. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated. 

April 4: Easter Sunday worship at 10:30 AM in person, via Zoom, and livestream. Special music from our brass ensemble and Nancy Coffin. Please wear a mask, sanitize your hands, and practice social distancing. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated.

Beloved of God, let us come together in joy this Palm Sunday when we shall gather online at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship at 10:30 AM. We have pre-recorded the worship, so we will watch it together on Zoom and have our Prayers of the People afterwards. We have a wonderfully creative worship for you called Jerusalem News Broadcast: Palm Sunday, written by Henry Admiraal, and featuring Juliet Gallagher, Dan Pannebaker, James Steele, Caleb Thorpe, and Jamie Zeller. And a special treat — the New Jericho Children’s Choir singing! I will offer a reflection called Waiting in Bethany. 

In addition, I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at 2:15 PM for our get-your-palms drive by. Please come up the driveway and stop at the back door area of Coventry House and I will hand you the palms. If this time doesn't work for you, please reach out to me and I can arrange another time for you to receive your palms. Please know the Middletown Arts Center has classes on Saturday from 9 AM - 2 PM, and it is one of their busier days, so any palm pick will have to be after 2:15. 

In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish