Reverend Brock Patterson quickly grew to love the traditions of the Longboat Island chapel after becoming senior pastor at the end of 2020 – even showing up for work at 5:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday. It leads to something beautiful. The church has held its Easter sunrise service for a long time, and despite the early wake up call, it is loved by congregants and Patterson himself.
“This year it’s 7 (am) in the garden, and we’re expecting a good solid crowd,” Patterson said. “Last year I was told by a number of people who don’t normally attend the chapel that it was a tradition to go to the sunrise service. It’s a really cool experience. Last year was the first, and now I’ve been here for a year, and the church is doing really well. … It’s perfect timing with (7am) being closer to the actual sunrise, so it’s still a bit dark when we start.
In 2022, crowds have increased and traditions have restarted and grown for the holy weekends of Easter and Passover. The Jewish event began on April 15, which also marked the start of the Easter Holy Weekend, and religious communities in Longboat Key rallied together to celebrate and uphold their traditions.
The sunrise service wasn’t the only tradition unique to the chapel on Longboat Island. Throughout Lent, which began on March 2, the faithful participated in daily sacrifices. Some were painless, like reading the Bible for 10 minutes a day, but others required a more open heart, like praying for someone who hurt you. For each week of daily challenges taken on by a person, they had to put a rose on the flowered cross in the chapel. The flower cross has been around for years, but it’s back inside now – two years ago worshipers drove by and added flowers to it from outside the chapel during the pandemic.
“It’s just loaded with roses because so many people have done it,” Patterson said. “It’s been great to see from week to week how these roses have bloomed.”
At St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Star of the Sea, Rev. Robert Dziedziak hosted about 250 people at the Stations of the Cross service on Good Friday. For the past two years, the service has been less crowded and is usually held outdoors on the Church Bay Promenade. However, this year, due to the heat, Dziedziak kept the congregation indoors. Together they prayed through the 14 stations that depict the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.
“I’m glad we made it inside with this volume of people because the prayer walk is quite narrow,” Dziedziak said.
Other traditions, such as the coffee hour after the Easter service at Christ Church in Longboat Key, have returned with vigor after a sabbatical year. Meanwhile, at Temple Beth Israel, the temple-wide Seder is back. Executive Director Isaac Azerad said members celebrated the first Seder April 15 at home with their families, then 100 of them gathered for the Seder the next day. Passover is one of the most celebrated events in the Jewish calendar and commemorates the departure of the Jews from Egypt and slavery. There are many traditions, but hiding and finding the afikomen is important. There are three pieces of matzah on the table and the middle one, called afikomen, is broken. The large piece is wrapped in a towel and hidden somewhere.
“If you’re a kid, or a kid at heart, or in our case 70 or younger, the particular traditions include seeking out the afikomen,” Azerad said. “You hide it and the kid who finds it usually gets $1. Of course, today with inflation, someone joked that you have to do $35.
Now that spring break is over, the full-time employees of Longboat Key have a reason to celebrate even as their part-time neighbors mourn: the holidays usually mark the end of the busy season on Longboat Key, so the population will begin to decline. go forward.
“Usually Easter determines the cut of the season,” Azerad said. “Because this year, coincidentally, Passover fell on April 15, which was Good Friday, people made their own considerations. Many of them decided to stay for the Seder and leave right after.
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