Can it be possible that Palm Sunday is only one week from this coming Sunday?  Where did the winter go? Our Easter Flower appeal went out on March 7th.  How many times have we heard, “I meant to send that in!”?  Make donating to this annual appeal as easy as possible.  I have found that inserting a separate half-sheet inside the Sunday bulletin each week makes it easy for parishioners to attach a check on the spot, without having to tear anything out, then they can deposit check and dedication form in the alms bason.  Also leave a few forms in obvious places like the back of church, the narthex, vestibule table, parish hall etc. Easter flowers may also be given in honor of someone or in thanksgiving for blessings received or for the service of an individual-not just as memorials.  The Paschal candle may be sponsored by a church group or individual.  Be sure to include the date when donations should reach the office.

1. Nurseries and florists will be very happy to have your bulb and flower order two weeks before delivery or pick up.  To obtain the best product, make it easier for your supplier to order in plenty of time. If you plan to have paper coverings around your pots, be sure to tell your supplier.  Plain dark green paper is best -the flower, not the pot, is the focus.  Clear plastic drip cups are also available.  Most florists and nurseries charge for papering pots and charge for the water catcher cups. Have floral materials delivered in plenty of time to make up the Maundy garden of repose and cut flowers in time to have stems cut and a good rest in deep water before arranging for the Great Vigil. At the high cost of blossoms- make each one count with careful prep time which will assure longer life.

2. Home Depot and Stop and Shop have begun putting out the potted palms.  These are great for Palm Sunday, Easter, and will go happily outside this summer and return for you next year.  Most are priced at about $15.00 for a large pot with palm  height at about 6 feet high- a bargain!

3. Now is the time to get that brass polishing out of the way- it is the messiest part of festival preparation.  Font inserts, Paschal candle stands, candlesticks, patenellas, thuribles etc. should gleam for Easter Sunday. MAAS is my preferred metal polish.  Silver polishing is usually also on the agenda over the next 2 weeks.

4. Matches, flashlights and batteries, a good supply of candles, congregational candles and bobeches, baptismal candles, charcoal or kindling, towels for Maundy Thursday, and other Holy Week supplies should be procured and stored this week.  Time to hunt up and clean the hibachi or other fire-making brazier for Saturday’s Great Vigil.  Check wine and wafer supplies as well. Don’t forget to check on the waxed wicking for acolyte candle lighters!

5. Last call for minor repairs and cleaning of white vestments and hangings, small and fair linens.  Holy Week is the time of year when the linen drawers should be well-stocked all the time for all emergencies.

6. Rotas for Holy Week should be sorted out with a list posted in the sacristy of all those covering the many services.  This may be the week to have additional guild members lend a hand to the team on duty.  Who will help maintain the potted plants?  Will any flowers go to shut-ins? Will there be a parish tidy-up day with the altar guild?  This is usually done the Saturday before Easter Sunday around 10 a.m.

7.  Be sure to take your Paschal candle out of the box and make sure the incense grains are there and that there are no cracks in the candle.  Be sure the candle end fits smoothly into the candlestick stand.

8. Do you have a team ready to assist with the stripping of the altar and the receiving  and storing of chancel furnishings on Maundy Thursday evening?

9. Be ready to remove the lily stamens as soon as the pots are delivered. Don’t wait until the warm room causes the anthers to burst open and dump their pollen all over everything.  Lily pollen is the worst to get out of cloth.

10. Being prepared, delegating chores, stocking up on supplies, good communication with the guild members and rector, and crossing off tasks ahead of schedule will insure a smooth, tranquil Holy Week and Easter Sunday and a beautiful sanctuary for the Feast of all feast days.