Rays of sunlight across a leather-bound copy of The Book of Common Prayer

How Holy Week Services Help Us Walk With Jesus

The story of Easter is at the heart of the Christian faith, and each year Trinity Church moves through it slowly and deliberately.

The Road to Easter In Jesus's Footsteps

During Holy Week, we remember the last days of Jesus’s life, from his joyous entry into Jerusalem, to a bittersweet meal with his disciples, to his betrayal, trial, and execution. What begins with Palm Sunday culminates in the Triduum, a three-part service that arcs from Maundy Thursday through Good Friday and, finally, into the joy of Easter.

We ground ourselves in the scriptural accounts of Jesus’s life in our liturgy — the order and shape of our church services — because we believe this ancient story echoes through the ages: Jesus’s resurrection is a promise that death is not the final word.  

We believe God’s love is at work in the world today, breathing new life into our ordinary lives — often when we least expect it. 

Palm Sunday

Jesus enters Jerusalem. Riding on a humble donkey, he looks out on crowds that joyfully welcome him and line the streets with cloth and palm branches. But any gladness he feels is tinged with sorrow. He knows what will, what must, happen very soon: betrayal, suffering, and death. 

On Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday, we remember Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem with a parade of palms. When the Passion Gospel is read during the service, we shift our attention to where Jesus’s path will finally lead.  


With every step, Jesus draws closer to the cross. His inner thoughts are a mystery to us. Did his fingers trace the places where his skin would soon be pierced? Did his breath catch as he contemplated the agony awaiting him? His soul is troubled. What can he do but cling to God? “Believe,” he tells his people urgently. “Believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.” 

During the Office of Tenebrae, we reflect on Jesus’s journey to the cross. The lights in the church are extinguished until only one candle remains, a symbol of Jesus. This candle is then hidden, suggesting the apparent victory of death. A loud noise will fill the church, symbolizing the earthquake at the time of the resurrection. The hidden candle is restored to its place and by its light all depart in silence.

Maundy Thursday 

Jesus sits at the Passover table in a room filled with his closest friends. They have been through many trials already, but Jesus knows their journeys are just beginning. He wants them to remember him. He takes bread and wine, gives thanks, and asks them to follow his example. Then, he gets up, ties a towel around himself, and pours water into a basin. He washes his friends’ feet, urging them to, “Love one another.” 

Maundy Thursday is the first service of the Triduum, the three holy days leading to Easter. We remember Jesus’s last supper with his disciples, his washing their feet, and his commandment to love one another as he loves us. The altar is stripped of its linen and other adornments, in preparation for Good Friday. 

Good Friday 

Jesus is beaten, stands trial, and is sentenced to death. From the cross, alongside two criminals, he speaks, “It is finished,” and takes his last breath.

On Good Friday, we remember Jesus’s Passion: his betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and burial. The congregation is invited to meditate on his willingness to die for us, and what it means to us, by touching and kneeling before the cross. The service ends in silence. 

In the holy darkness of the tomb, God is at work. Death is not the final word.

The Easter Vigil 

Jesus’s body, anointed with spices and wrapped in a clean linen cloth, lies in a new tomb. A great stone covers the opening. Outside, soldiers stand guard. In the holy darkness of the tomb, God is at work.  

The Great Vigil of Easter is one of the oldest known rites of the Christian church, dating back to the second century. It brings worshippers, literally and symbolically, from darkness into light through the kindling of new fire, reading of scriptures, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. After weeks of preparation, more joyful elements return to service, including a riotous display of flowers and the word Alleluia, which has not been spoken during the past forty days of Lent. 

Easter Sunday 

The earth shakes. The stone rolls back. Jesus is here again, truly here. Death did not win. Jesus hears the weeping of Mary, his friend and faithful follower. “Mary,” he calls softly. She turns, recognizes him. Jesus watches her tears turn to disbelief, then immeasurable joy. Jesus comforts her and instructs her to go and share the good news.  

Like spring itself, Easter brings the promise of new life. Gloria, a song of praise, replaces the Kyrie, a supplication for mercy. Alleluia is proclaimed enthusiastically and will remain in acclamations, hymns, and dismissals throughout the fifty days of Eastertide. 

Subscribe for Trinity Updates

Get information about Trinity Church Wall Street and our latest programming.