Here’s the Holy Week Five, as created by Reverend Mother:
1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?
We’re doing the hyphenated version. I’m trying my hand at stitching together two services—a palm service and a passion service—with Communion as the seam joining them. It means I have to be very creative about the Communion prayer and consecration, and our musician is searching desperately for music that help serve as a bridge…but rather than jump too abruptly from one to the other, Communion can be a bridge. When I have a complete order of service, I’ll post it. I’m lucky in that the congregation is willing to let me experiment a bit…within certain limits, of course. There will be two readings, and two meditations, tied together in some fashion. I think around letting things be incomplete, untidy—we don’t know whether the crowd on one Sunday was the same people as Friday’s mob; it matters, but we can’t know. We have to just sit with that, and acknowledge the contradictions within ourselves. And then the Crucifixion—that’s not the way things are supposed to go in a good story. If Luke were a Disney story, the crowd on Palm Sunday would have taken over the palace, kicked out the Romans, and made Jesus king. But that’s not the reality, and so we have to accept that too—that Jesus was Crucified and no angels came to rescue him. He was killed, he was dead. We have to accept that. The reading for the second part of the service isn’t the passion story; it’s the account by David Mundy of his partner’s agonizing death as a result of AIDS. Mundy says he had to accept it, to sit with George’s death, every step of the way with him. And that is what he suggests we need to do with the Crucifixion, too. Very powerful, moving stuff. I’m going to want to tread carefully, as some of our members are HIV+, others have lost friends and loved ones to HIV/AIDS—it’s going to stir some memories. But they know as well as I do that we cannot forget. And what better time to remember the ones we loved who are no longer with us than at Easter when we also remember the One who conquered death?
2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.
One of those things that works better in theory than in practice. The alternative, handwashing, is even worse (who washed his hands on Maundy Thursday/Good Friday?).
3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.
This is very sad. I can’t com up with one. I can imagine all kinds of services that would b moving and powerful—but they haven’t been done. The problem is that when I'm leading worship, I can’t (or I don’t) allow myself to be drawn completely into the experience. I’m always focussing on the next thing, on the logistics of getting to point A to point B—I can’t relax and go with the flow. So for the last ten years, at least, I’ve been leading or assisting with worship on Good Friday (always a good thing to give to the clergy candidate or intern or seminary student..). The service this year will be very powerful, I think—modified stations of the cross, with “Were you there…” a verse at a time, as appropriate (solo), with some other hymns and prayers (including one from the Q’uran and one from a Jewish Kaddish). We end with the Seven Last Words as a litany (the congregation saying Jesus’ words), and then the last verse of the solo…”Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid him in the tomb….” Trailing into silence, unfinished. And we all leave in silence.
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
And as long as Eastr isn’t too early in the year…I’ve been to far too many frozen Sunrise Services to stand it. Can we keep it indoors?
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"
5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...
Spring flowers all over the altar! The altar guild at one church used to literally create a garden in the chancel on Easter Sunday (I think they spent most of Easter Saturday working on it) with cedar edging and the lilies, azaleas, tulips, hyacinths and hydrangeas arranged just so. Stunning. They should have gotten together with my friend who created a tomb out of papier mache that he used on Good Friday for a tomb, and then on Easter it became the altar for Communion…also very cool. It would have ben visually stunning to combine the two.
Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share.
If they are done well, yes. That and if I have a sympathetic companion to help me get there in the first place, and then keep me company all the way through. Otherwise I’d wuss out at the last minute.