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Monday, April 02, 2012

Holy Week Prep Party -- Holy Monday Edition

It's Holy Week, and we'll depart from our regular schedule to provide daily opportunities to share our preparation and offer support to one another. Whether you're preaching or planning or praying, we hope you'll join us each day and share your experiences, questions or brilliant ideas in the comments.

If you're not yet a member of our Facebook group, we hope you'll join us there for lively conversations, too.

In my tradition we don't have services each day of Holy Week, but I love to explore the daily readings, found here. In today's gospel lesson, Jesus has dinner with his friends Mary and Martha, and their recently revived brother, Lazarus. The passage ends on a note of concern, and it inspired the poem I share below.

When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus. (John 12:9-11, NRSV)

Mary and Martha

How do you keep quiet 
when a man comes back to life?

(Do you believe a dead man came back to life?)

When it all seemed impossible,
all light and air withdrawn,
that's when we heard breathing.

No one could have survived.
(We knew it couldn't be true.)
No one.

But we heard breathing. We heard it.
(We thought we heard it.) 

When we breathe, really breathe,
our chests rise,
the air fills us.
We live.

He lived.

(We are telling you the truth.)

They didn't want to hear it, 
to know the truth.
They didn't want people to know.

They wanted to push the air out,
flatten him, take away the life--
the unexpected life--
the thing we couldn't believe,
the thing we couldn't imagine
(but we saw him with our own eyes)
the thing that made us believe.

~Martha Spong


  1. This would ordinarily be my day off, and I had hoped to hold to that, but I got a call about a death just as I was leaving church yesterday. So we now have a funeral for Wednesday (not a church member, but grew up in the church), so I'll be meeting the family today.
    I have orders of service pulled together for our Easter services (Sunrise and the regular one), but Maundy Thursday is a lovely notion in my mind. At least it's that far along, with the help of our Facebook group!

    1. Blessings to you, Martha, as your Holy Week takes on more meaning and more demands.

  2. I'm day-off-less this week, what with Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and taking the confirmation class to the seder on Saturday night. Luckily I'm headed for vacation immediately after worship on Sunday!

    Our Friday and Sunday plans are firmed up...but Maundy Thursday is barely even a lovely notion. At the moment it's more of a panic. lol. I know what's for dinner, but the worship aspect of the evening is a vague idea about extravagant love and prayer stations. In fact, with those 5 words I have summed up everything I know so far about MT. so....I have my work cut out for me today!!

    1. Teri, just the thought of prayer stations made my stomach tense up in knots. I've got a sense of four parts for the service, but I have to get some things on paper for Wednesday's funeral before I really dive into MT.

  3. I am today reflecting on the lectionary scripture for Monday. This week I plan to reflect each day on the scriptures assigned. I have very little involvement in the worship planned for this week. On Easter I am the liturgist for the 11am service. However it is the last Easter service to be preached by our Senior Pastor. It will be emotional.
    I just came off of Spring break with the kids in the mountains of North Carolina. What a wonderful time together we had as a family. Trees were starting to bud and flowers were starting to bloom.
    I'll be praying for all of you who have preaching to do and worship to lead this week.
    May this be a holy time for all.

    1. Thank you, Abi! It sounds like an emotional week for your church. Glad you had a getaway with your family.

  4. I am at home today while they put the last new window in the manse - can't decide whether to sleep, unpack a few boxes, or work on worship. Tenebrae on Good Friday; then Easter. Got my work cut out for me, too. Praying for everyone this week.

    My little guy is having a tough time adjusting to new school - rough morning today. I covet your prayers for him.

    1. So sorry for your son. Prayers here.

    2. Prayers for your little guy.

  5. We have ecumenical services every morning and evening - every morning in our church but led by clergy of the various denominations in town; and the evening services in their own places of worship. I am off to a passover meal at the Roman Catholic church tonight. I am responsible for Thursday (morning and evening)services and have a service for the local dementia centre tomorrow. And obviously Sunday (with new members joining and communion).

    At the moment I have no idea what I am doing at any of them and seem to be fighting off a bit of a bug (which I hope gets no worse!)

    It helps to know there are others out there not sure what they are doing at some of the services too. Praying that the Spirit inspires us all!

  6. Replies
    1. Thank you, Purple! (I don't dare look until I write up my thoughts.)

  7. oh Martha,
    what a breathtaking poem!

    1. :-)
      Thanks, Karla. And good for you and your staff for being so far ahead!

  8. oh, and we did all of planning last week, maundy thursday and GF bullies all printed and ready, with Easter just needing to be put together.
    overly efficient. but then, there are three of us....

  9. I am only doing the Vigil this year. I preach and sing the Exultet. I love that service but it is so long that we often lose folks in the telling. Sigh

    Last Sat evening we had a reception for our Holy Week Art show. Members of the parish hung art depicting different aspects of Holy Week and Easter. Some of our artists are incredible and even professional but most of them are people who are trying to articulate their faith in a medium other than words. I don't think I have heard members of parishes claim their personal faith more clearly. It was an awesome event and I am trying to think about how visual that the Vigil service is and play with that.

  10. My regular day off is Friday so I hope to flex some time out later this week (ha ha ha)

    As for worship planning I am well in hand. Of course it helps that I am pretty much re-using the liturgy form last year for Thursday and Friday. Just change the hymns and readings and voila! All I have left to create (other than actual meditations and sermons) is the last couple of bits for the Sunday bulletin.

    Anyway, my early thoughts for this week's services have all been posted: Thursday, Friday, and Sunday

    Also, we are doing Communion on Sunday, and I had no Easter Communion liturgy in my files. So I had to create one. If anybody needs such a thing you can find it here

    1. If by later this week, you mean next Monday and Tuesday...I'm with you. :-)

  11. This week: Normal Wednesday noon Celtic Eucharist with Healing Prayer, Maundy Thursday hosting of renewal of ordination vows with the Bishop at 11 am, parish Maundy Thursday service at 7 pm. Good Friday parish service at noon, Interfaith Stations of the Cross with the Catholics at 2 pm, Interfaith evening service at the Lutheran Church (I'm preaching). Family-friendly Easter Vigil (only two of the readings in the first part - Creation from "God's Trombones" and Exodus story from The Message) on Saturday evening at 7 pm. 8:15 and 10:30 services on Easter Sunday, followed by a couple of hospital visits. Oh, and did I mention my husband's family are showing up on Thursday after lunch? Praying that my most dreadfully ill parishioner will hold on through this week - if I had to do a memorial service this week, I think it would break me into little bits.

    The vigil sermon will be a reworking of St John Chrysostom's Easter Vigil sermon. The Good Friday sermons are halfway done (the easy half, unfortunately). The Easter morning sermon is just a swirl of random ideas right now, although thanks to Teri P, I know what I'll do with the kids' message. Maundy Thursday - some sort of homily about the sacred gift of meals, I think, but right now it's pretty sketchy.

    Bulletins, remarkably, are all done. Small gifts!

    1. "Normal Wednesday noon Celtic Eucharist" is the best thing I've read all day. :-)

  12. Hello all!
    I went on spring break last week with one of my sons, which was great and wonderful and much needed time away. But I got home in time for Palm Sunday and am now wondering if I was insane to be gone last week!
    I keep telling myself that if God could take a day off, I can use my vacation too. Right?
    Anyhow, I have the bulletins done for Maundy Thursday and Easter but need to work on the booklet for the Maundy Thursday prayer centers. (We're having worship with a meal in the Fellowship hall and then people will be invited to continue in self directed worship at the prayer stations. It will be great. Once I get it put together...)

    And this morning, while reading Diana Butler Bass' new book about Christianity after Religion, I got a sense of the direction that the Easter sermon will take. Endings/Beginnings, Death/New life, and how Mark's ending leaves us so unsatisfied, but maybe shouldn't. As I said, the briefest sense of what I'll be talking about.

    But I have a few deadlines for outside projects. Am wondering how I agreed to projects with near Easter deadlines. Silly minister.

    Anyway, it is good to be back!

    1. Welcome back, Marci! And "me too" on the deadlines.

    2. I did not go away on Spring Break and I am still not ready for the week. It will all come together because you will make it happen.

      I had two funerals and a wedding last Thurs/Fri/Sat, so I would not have been ready either way.

      Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are shared services with our sister church in the area, so the work is shared.

      Blessings to all!

  13. Marci, I'm doing something similar for Maundy Thursday. What kind of stations are you thinking about? I can't seem to settle on what exactly to do.

  14. By noon on Easter, I will have participated in 12 eucharistic services and preached at 8 of those over 10 days. I still have the regular Wednesday night sermon to write, as well as Good Friday and Easter (which is three services). Got regular life stuff accomplished today and will jump into the sermons tomorrow, before and after the diocesan Chrism mass. I'm really looking forward to next Monday.

  15. Martha, your poem is stunningly beautiful.

  16. We used prayer stations for a "pre-Holy-Week" prayer retreat on Saturday. They included the Last Supper, Garden of Gethsemane, Judas' betrayal, the cross, and a candlelight altar that anticipated the resurrection. I structured them around a poem by Ann Weems - "The Annointed One" from the book From Advent's Alleluia to Easter's Morning Dawn. If anyone would like a copy, email me at pastoramy(at)coraopolisumc(dot)org.

    I have the Good Friday "lessons & carols" style service done but still struggling with Maundy Thursday and Easter morning sermons. And I am mildly regretting my decision to logout of Facebook during Holy Week - which was designed to give me space for prayer and listening, but has also unintentionally blocked me from gleaning your good ideas posted there! Hope you will repeat many of them here! :)


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