I woke up this morning and read the news--stories about the Germanwings murders, a blog from a woman with a special needs child who cannot get the public school to be accessible for her learning and social needs, news from our friends in Bosnia who continue to suffer economic hardship and political corruption. I received notes from friends who are suffering grief as people we love have died. I checked in on a friend who has a long term illness. And I cried, with the sadness of it all.
But I think that it is not just the news that made me sad, it is the season--the end of Lent, this week when we walk with Jesus towards Jerusalem. I am profoundly reminded that Jesus' ministry must continue because the oppression, cruelty, brutality of the world that he lived in continues today. There is suffering in our lives and the lives of people all around us.
On Sunday we celebrated his triumphal entry into Jerusalem with Palms and fanfare. But this is not a joyous walk, it is a hard journey. As we move through this intense week of liturgies, we have an opportunity to ritually explore what it means to be Christians--to be with all who suffer in the world, to work for and hope for the coming of the Kingdom, to know that we are not divine, and to take in the great love of God who raised Jesus from the dead and offers us salvation. We participate in Jesus' obedience to God, and we celebrate his resurrection.
As we participate in these liturgies, things will undoubtedly get stirred up in us. Last night, after walking the Stations of the Cross, over a bowl of soup we had an intense conversation about places and people who matter so much to us. It was a gift, an opportunity to know one another in a different way. We allowed ourselves to be opened up by the prayers, to share some hurts and to hope together.
Tonight, we will walk the Way of the Cross again at 6 p.m.
Wednesday we will participate in the Tenebrae service. It is a candlelight service that involves singing psalms, listening to lessons and responding with prayers. It is a service crafted from the monastic tradition of daily offices, allowing us to experience some of the beauty and depth of prayers that mark time.
Maundy Thursday, we begin the Triduum liturgy of three days. We will contemplate the Last Supper and we will focus on service and humility as we do ritual footwashing and strip the altar. We have found some beautiful new settings of the psalms for that service and Grace and Rev. Lizette will add their voices to our prayers.
Good Friday is an opportunity to step more deeply into the mystery of the cross. Why is this the symbol of our faith? As we retell the story of the Passion, we may notice the difference between hearing the Passion on Palm Sunday in the context of the Procession of Palms and hearing it on Friday in the context of venerating the cross.
And then finally, the Easter Vigil. In this magical liturgy of light, we begin with an outdoor fire. We will be joined by Deacon, the Rev. Kate Salinaro. She will sing the Exsultet, as we process with the Easter candle. We will hear lessons telling the story of our salvation history--from Creation to the the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Exodus, the Valley of the Dry Bones. We will move to the death and resurrection and salvation offered freely to us. We will reaffirm our Baptismal Vows at the font, sprinkled again with water, committing ourselves once again to participate God's ongoing creative, emancipatory work. Then with a celebratory Eucharist, we will sing Alleluia and be born again.
And then on Sunday morning, with the pageantry and joy of resurrection, we will sing and celebrate with newcomers, friends who come to be with us on this highest of holy days. We will celebrate new life, the birth of Spring flowers, Easter eggs and the glory of the resurrected Christ all together.
This walk towards Easter is not to be missed. Join us if you can. And if you can't, consider reading the daily office lectionary (found in the back of your prayerbook). The joy of Easter is coming, it will be all the sweeter for the hard walk to get there. We walk it through our liturgies this week, and through our lives as Christians every day of the year.