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Monday, April 06, 2009

Seeking Wholeness in this Holiest of Weeks...

Monday Morning in Holy Week is, for me, and perhaps for many of you, a day of standing on the precipice looking into a chasm of holy busy-ness. Actually the Saturday before Palm/Passion Sunday is really the day to stare into that abyss. Now, today, one of the Holy Week days is already over, gone like the palm branches we blessed and waved, lingering in the aftermath of a Gospel reading that points us to what lay ahead.

And, so while Palm/Passion Sunday is over, and I try to claim some brief respite on my day off, I wonder, "How will this week go?" "Will the rehearsals help us have flawless liturgy?" (Not likely, but is perfection really the goal? Alas, I hope for it anyway).

"Will the people come to the Triduum, that service that lasts for three days and begins with Maundy Thursday, includes a prayer vigil through the night ending at the Good Friday service, continues with a brief Holy Saturday morning service and concludes with the Great Vigil, or Easter Vigil as it is also known?" In my mind, if people came to no other worship service all year, they should come to the Triduum.

...Ok, maybe that is overstating it a bit, and asking too little of people....but really the Triduum tells our salvation story with drama, passion, love - what more could a person ask for?

And, of course I wonder, will the Easter Day services be as full this year as last? Will they energize people and leave them feeling like Christ has risen, and that is Good News we should proclaim to all we meet? Sigh. Yes, on this Monday morning I have high expectations for the week ahead.

I leave you with this song from "Owl Woman" a healer of the Papago tribe in the desert Southwest, the region I live in. Also an image of a Navajo sand painting for healing, which hangs in my home office and yoga studio. It seems to me that the underlying theme of Holy Week is, will we be healed of our sins when the Easter sun rises?

How shall I begin my song
In the blue night that is settling?

In the great night my heart will go out,
Toward me the darkness comes rattling.
In the great night my heart will go out.

Brown owls come here in the blue evening,
The are hooting about,
They are shaking their wings and hooting.

Black Butte is far.
Below it I had my dawn.
I could see the daylight
coming back for me.

The morning star is up.
I cross the mountains
into the light of the sea.

(Owl Woman, from Women in Praise of the Sacred, translated by Frances Densmore, edited by Jane Hirshfield, HarperPerennial publisher, 1995)

What are your hopes for whole-ness for this holiest of weeks? Leave a comment in the comment section or a link to your blog.

(Meet and Greet will return in two weeks)


  1. I love that song mompriest, and I guess I will be attending Triduum this year, we begin with a Maunday Thursday service of communion in one village chapel, continue with a walk of witness and a service of vigil on Good Friday, and continue with a service of meditation on Good Friday evening, there is no Easter Vigil here, but I will observe it anyway....

  2. Palm fronds abandoned
    Left to dry
    Abandoned by those
    Who held them to the sky

    What next?

    Details for worship
    Where to place the table and cross and candles
    How to set the chairs for worship
    Outline the bulletin –again

    What next?

    Lenten luncheon plans are set
    Food is being prepared and provided
    Welcome the guests and hear the preacher
    And then move the chairs and change the tables

    What next?

    Maundy Thursday
    Cross and candles on table chairs around for communion to be served
    New commandment given
    Love one another
    Do I love you??

    What next?

    Do I love Jesus enough to put these details in their place and to spend the time with those who need most to receive God’s mercy? I pray so...I pray so...
    What Next?

    Wait, wait someone is shouting Jesus is not in the tomb he is risen. He is not there
    he is risen, he is not there he is risen!

    What next!!!!

  3. I won't be worshiping (formally) for the entire Triduum. I am drawn to the idea of one service over 3 days, though. I would love the opportunity to be a part of that as a worshiper someday, to experience it and be led in it. Someday.

    I am preparing for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday at this point. I have been having great struggles with Good Friday and what I feel about the crucifixion myself. Not that what I "feel" about it matters a whole heck of a lot. Anyway, with my own struggles with it having been pushed aside for more years that I'd like to admit, I now feel confronted by it all as I am preparing to preach during that service. Can't skip the preaching this year since it's a joint service with another congregation and it's my turn. The other pastor plans the order and liturgy, I just preach.

    Anyway, I stopped by the Painted Prayerbook and found WONDERFUL inspiration from last year's Good Friday reflection. I feel like I can still struggle with the crucifixion even as I proclaim, but still find a word from God for our two church communities, and especially the community we become when we are gathered on Good Friday. We have been given to each other in our grief and in our calling, in our sinfulness and in our redemption.

    Thanks be to God!

  4. The church secretary just poked her head into my office and said this: "Bet you didn't know that this was Holy COW Week!" With co-pastor headed on Sabbatical in just 10 days, how right she is!


  5. Sally, I hope the portions of the Triduum you experience will feed you

    Bobbie, indeed - what's next..

    SheRev, there are some wonderful reflection on Good Friday from the Iona Community, if you can get your hands on one of their books. I also once used a pre-written mediation for Good Friday, from I think, Ambrose or Anselm, about a rabbit - wish I could find was in a book on Daily Reflections for the Christian Year or something like...

    Meg - LOL - Holy Cow week!

  6. Holy Cow week indeed!
    We had a Taize service last night. This is something I always hear good things about from the congregation. So, apart from the choir and the altar guild, there was one person there last night who didn't have to be. I think we'll take next year off. Still, I enjoyed it and the readings from Martha Sterne's book, Earthly Good, were well received.
    Tonight is Evening Prayer and dinner at the Lazarus house, Mary anointing Jesus and those pesky poor who will be with us always. Not a clue what I will say in 90 minutes.
    Tomorrow is again Evening Prayer and the Greeks will come to see Jesus again - didn't we just do this lesson??
    Wednesday is the service of Tenebrae. The choir is ready, I am trusting that my voice will hold out for the antiphons and that the loud noise at the end will really be loud and not just half-hearted.
    Maundy Thursday took on new excitement yesterday when my parish life coordinator announced she is having surgery Thursday and may well be out for six weeks if they have to do a total hysterectomy - the surgery of the year here, it would seem. So I am calling people to bring a little of this and some of that. Everything else except the sermon is ready.
    Friday we do the Way of the Cross and the Good Friday liturgy twice since so few people get that day off anymore. Again, all is set but the sermon.
    Saturday morning we celebrate Holy Saturday. Silence is golden so I think we will sit with the dead who await the coming of the Lord.

    And then there's Sunday and it will be glorious. Of course, you ahve already guessed that the sermon hasn't been hatched or even germinated yet. ;-)

    I love HOly Week, even when I spend a day at the ER and doctor with a parishioner who broke her leg and another part of a day waiting for a parishioner to come out of surgery. It just adds a little spice to the recipe I've come to know and love.

    Happy HOly Week, y'all!

  7. Margaret - you have a LOT going mean cow...holy one at that!

  8. Your poem speaks to me, Bobbie. Thinking about it yesterday, I realized that what I find so exhausting about Holy Week isn't the number of services nor the preaching (not much extra now that I'm in a parish with multiple clergy); it's that these are liturgies we only do once a year, so I have to expend a lot more mental energy than usual just on the mechanics. And that very dynamic is what makes it hard to feel like I'm worshipping. I try to appreciate the moments that seem to break free of my fretting and planning; there are always a few that make the week for me.

  9. Two major meltdowns/blow-ups loom at my church, which feels like very poor timing! I need strength and patience to deal with them, to hear all sides, and to try and bring things together again. Oh, and prepare four bulletins and four reflections/meditations/sermons.

  10. A funeral today, for a 96-year-old former Army nurse. My prayer for the week is to keep people's anxieties at bay -- hurt feelings, hurried deadlines, money worries. Walking this way with Jesus is walking on sharp stones, tripping on loose ends, knowing we'll get to Easter -- but will people be paying attention??

  11. Your question is haunting.... how AM I seeking wholeness????.... in this week in particular. I preached yesterday, and I'm preparing a Good Friday Sermon, something I always struggle with. Growing up, we always had a music service on Good Friday, and I still can't get used to preaching rather than praying and singing and hearing the story.

    I very rarely get to preach on Easter, which has felt strange to me. on the one hand, sometimes a relief; on the other, somehow empty.

    We are having a seder service on Maundy Thursday for the first time.

  12. Not to change the subject, but I'm putting forth a prayer request.

    Last Friday, a group of elementary school students were at an indoor pool for a class field trip. One of the young boys was found at the bottom of the pool. He was pronounced dead on Sunday.

    Please offer your prayers. His name was Eddie and he was in 4th grade.

    Thank you.

  13. Songbird - prayers for you and your people....

    Jackie S. - prayers for you and your congregation too, and for the departed.

    Cody - prayers for Eddie, his family, you, his friends....

    Betsy - yes. I find this week energizing and exhausting - and mostly because of what it takes just to stay focused on the differences in the liturgy - things we only do once a year...

  14. Future Rev Cody: I'll be praying for Eddie & all who knew him. It was just before Easter 1981 that my minister's daughter died in a very similar way.

    This is why Easter Sunday only makes sense after Good Friday - I don't want a God who tells me to cheer up & look on the bright side - I need a God who is with me when the pain feels unbearable, but who still leads me into hope.

    For the first time this year I'm going to be stripping the altar - about to post the liturgy I've found here
    Blessings to and prayers for all of you!

  15. I have the luxury of letting others plan/lead worship this week.

    I did, however, have a great experience last night, one that I blogged about at my place : I hate committee meetings with a passion, and really had to drag myself to this one...but in the course of the meeting the Spirit did her thing in a wonderful way that will affirm a teenager in our congregation who really, really needs the support of caring adults outside her family.

  16. MomPriest, thank you for the poem. Jackie S, thank you for your words: "walking on sharp stones, tripping on loose ends..." All this is helpful as I struggle to navigate my own Lenten path.

    And to all the other struggles, anxieties and griefs, named & un-named, may God's Spirit stand with you and God's comfort enfold you.


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