Friday, April 14, 2006

Easter III

9:45 am ~

I can't believe I'm even awake. It was nearly 1:00 this morning when the Seder ended, and then my son, home for Part III of the Dental Disaster Recovery Effort, and I stayed up another hour and a half talking in the kitchen. And I talked to my daughter, who's in Oregon for the long week-end, visiting her Katrina-semester college friends and trying to decide whether to transfer back. Of course, it was three hours earlier in Oregon.

Holy Week and Passover take place in the context of the real world, as they always have.

Tenebrae Service at our church early in the evening was quiet, solemn, and moving. Tenebrae means "shadows," and apparently many churches use that service for Good Friday, but it's also an appropriate service for Thursday night. As we progress through communion and several readings of the beginning of the Passion Story, the seven candles on the altar are extinguished, one by one, and then finally the Christ Candle, first lit on Christmas Day, is also extinguished. At the end of the service, the paraments -- the various fabrics used for the altar, lectern, and pulpit -- and the pastors' vestments -- all of which are Lenten purple this week -- are all removed as silence and darkness descend.

As I have been looking around online, I have come to realize that Protestant churches often skip the observances of Holy Week, as they do any significant acknowledgement of Lent. We tend to be uncomfortable with images of darkness and reminders of evil. In Advent we read from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel of John that "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it," and we want to stick with that. We don't want to think of a world encased in a shroud of seemingly inpenetrable hatred even for three days.

Maundy Thursday services are short and spare, but emphatic. At our church, one of the pastors welcomed us to communion , as he always does, with a reminder that Christ's love is for everyone -- male and female, white and black, gay and straight, Christian and Jew and Muslim, every single person in the human family. That message never goes without saying in our church. But by the end of the hour it is clear, in the silence and the darkness, that evil and disintegration and division can overwhelm the light if we are left to our own devices.


CaliGirl said...

you wrote something that i think all the time and im sad that people just dont get it.

"Christ's love for EVERYONE in the human family"

it hurts me and makes me sad when i have that love but come across those that dont.

hugs to you and your family.
have a wonderful weekend.

Carol said...

This may be a bit simplistic but please get over your concern about eating prior to Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, etc. There's a joke in Judaism that says something like, "We were persecuted, we were freed, God is good, let's eat." All festivals and celebrations in Judaism involve food. Even after fasting there's great celebration involving food.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this as my knowledge of religion, including my own, is far more basic and minimal than yours.

Cynthia said...

Though I love the openness and dedication to service in my church, I miss the honoring of Lent and Holy Week, especially since I've come to appreciate anew the value of a church community. I was devouring Rilke last night who wrote quite a bit about finding God in the darkness. Not recognizing that adequately is a weakness, I fear. I feel that many of us need the darkness to find the light.

Kathryn said...

I almost went to a Tenenbrae service on Friday. The kids were done in by the length of the Holy Thursday service and bailed on the Good Friday service. I went by myself but decided not to do two services.

I struggle with the line between encouraging them to participate/celebrate and forcing it on them.