Rector’s Ramblings and Holy Week Reminders, 2023

Being some thoughts on reconciling, or at least relating, the Christian celebration of Easter with that of the secular world; plus Holy Week services.

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!

Holy Week is not only upon us, but we are halfway through it: indeed, on the very cusp of what is known as the Sacred Triduum, the three days – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday – leading up to the Feast of the Resurrection, on Easter Sunday. Before getting into the “meat” of this edition of “Rector’s Ramblings,” let me post the remaining observations, here at Christ Church, of this holy season: 

Services for Holy Week and Easter


Thursday, April 6th, 7:00 p.m. – Maundy Thursday

  • Holy Communion
  • Stripping of the Altar
  • Vigil: 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. – “Could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)

Friday, April 7th, 12:00 noon – Good Friday

  • Antecommunion, with Solemn Collects of Good Friday
  • Reproaches and Veneration of the Cross
  • 5:00 p.m. – Stations of the Cross

Please note that there will be no evening service on Good Friday. 

Saturday, April 8th, 7:00 p.m.– Holy Saturday (Easter Even)

  • Great Vigil of Easter
  • Lighting of the New Fire
  • Renewal of Baptismal Vows
  • Holy Communion

Sunday, April 9th, 10:30 a.m. – Easter Sunday: Feast of the Resurrection

  • Holy Communion


Rector’s Ramblings for Holy Week, 2023

(Based on presented a Homily on this day, at our midweek 10 o’clock service.)

There are three dates which occupy the somewhat uncomfortable position of being significant in both Christian and secular calendars; these are Christmas, Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve, the eve of All Saints Day), and Easter. While all of these have a Christian and religious origin, they have all picked up a variety of popular and secular associations, symbolisms, and trappings – some of which have origins that predate the conversion of Europe to Christianity.

While this was simply accepted, by and large, in ages past – and even into my own memory – in more recent decades, as various groups of secularists, atheists, and neopagans sought to attack the Christian faith and claim that it had simply stolen older, pagan traditions and repurposed them (and as Christians have sought to counteract this by trying to “purify” the holidays of any less-than-completely Christian elements), this discrepancy has provided fuel for the fire. But it need not, if one understands both the history and linguistics behind it.

First and foremost, it is important to note that of course Christianity has adopted, adapted, and “baptized” many customs and traditions that were in use by indigenous peoples prior to their conversion to the Faith! This isn’t something to be remarked at, still less used as a “Gotcha!” moment by critics of Christianity – or, for that matter, repented of by well-meaning Christians, as sometimes happens. It is simply what happens when human cultures – religious, secular, or both – come into contact with one another.

Customs and traditions are not necessarily bad, evil, or even wrong-headed simply because their origin predates Christianity. Some things are, of course! Human sacrifice, for instance, or the worshipping of other alleged deities, or spiritual entities. But colorful eggs, tiny chicks, and fluffy bunnies – all of which are symbols of Spring, and are also, like Spring itself, symbols and emblems of rebirth and thus Resurrection – do not fall into this category.

Pagans celebrated Spring not because they were pagan, but because they were human; and so long as we are prudential in how we do it, Christians can do the same thing: as the old hymn puts it, “This is my Father’s world,” and it is good and right and proper to rejoice in the beauty and bounty of God’s good Creation!

I do not want to get too far into a theological aside, but there are two contrasting principles found in post-Reformation Protestant Churches – specifically as regards worship, but celebration of holidays such as Easter and Christmas are generally included as well: one is the Regulative Principle, which holds that whatever is not specifically directed by Holy Scripture is therefore forbidden for Christians.

The other is the Normative Principle, which teaches that what is not expressly forbidden by Scripture is permissible. With the caveats that we seek to maintain that which is prudential, and that we seek always to do things “decently and in order,” Anglicans come down firmly on the Normative side.

Thus, while orderly, decent, and Normatively-principled Anglicans might not choose to join in corporate commercial attempts to turn Easter into the kind of orgy of conspicuous consumption secular Christmas has become, or to attend an Easter Egg hunt in preference to coming to Easter Sunday service, most of us are unlikely to find Easter baskets, brightly dyed eggs, or cute Easter cards featuring bunnies and baby chicks to be counter to either the Law or the Gospel.

Furthermore, “baptizing” otherwise harmless and pleasant customs and traditions is a recognized means of evangelism, and has been for many centuries. As regards our Anglican tradition, St. Gregory the Great, known as “the Apostle to the English” for sending St. Augustine of Canterbury to convert the Anglo-Saxons to the Christian faith, specifically instructed him to retain and repurpose as many of their customs and traditions as were commensurate with, or at least not antagonistic to, the faith, that they might the more readily receive the teachings of that faith, through being able to approach them using familiar forms.

There are any number of ways this can occur, in the context of Easter: as I mentioned above, simply reminding children (and adults!) that eggs, baby bunnies, and chicks are symbols of resurrection and rebirth is one; another might be assigning the colors of jelly beans or eggs to have meaning in the story of Christ’s Resurrection, as in a cute little poem shared with me by one of our parishioners, that I may use on Easter Sunday itself!

And if you want to get really fancy, I remember from my own childhood hollow “eggs” (I seem to recall that these were made of spun sugar, but it’s been a few years, so my memory may be hazy) that contained scenes of the Empty Tomb, or other Biblical vignettes. 

I seem to remember eggs like these, but with Christian scenes inside, from my growing-up-Methodist years!

The point is that we do not have to simply adopt the meaningless consumerism of the secular world; but neither do we need to utterly and indiscriminately reject customs that are not specifically Christian. We can be prudential in how we use them, such that they support rather than dilute the faith, but still allow children – and others! – to enjoy elements of the culture in which they live.

For further exploration:

“Was Easter borrowed from a pagan holiday?” | Christianity Today

“Why Eggs on Easter? A Christian Answer” | Building Faith

The Tradition of Easter Eggs in the Orthodox Church | Greek Reporter

 Propers for the Remainder of Holy Week:



I hope and pray everyone is enjoying a holy and blessed Holy Week!

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Fr. Tom Harbold

Contact Info

Phone: (910) 246-0955



750 Fairway Drive, Southern Pines
At the intersection of Aiken Road and Fairway Drive.


Christ Church Anglican
750 Fairway Dr,
Southern Pines, NC 28387